Image Credit: WP Marine Corps Veteran, Sergeant Coleman (Retired)
Image Credit: WP
Marine Corps Veteran, Sergeant Coleman (Retired)

After we broke our exclusive interview yesterday with Robert Fernandes, the man who paid more than $7k in property taxes in single dollars bills to protest the tax, a heart-breaking study emerged from the Washington Post. 

Bennie Coleman, US Marine Corps Sergeant (retired), watched from a lawn chair across the street as armed federal US Marshals stormed his house, stole his possessions and put his house up for sale, which he paid in full with cash more than 20 years ago. If that wasn’t enough- the agents also took his dignity. They took his photographs of his late wife and his medals from his career as a US Marine Corps Sergeant.

A controversial program is at fault. In Washington D.C. tax liens are placed on property owners. If not paid, the lien is sold to a private group who inflates the original debt to astronomical figures. Sergeant Coleman owed $134 to the government. Rather than continue to try and work with the honored Marine Sergeant and widower, his government, which he served for years sold him out.

Sergeant Coleman’s tax bill ballooned to $4,999. He lost his $197,000 home and all equity that it had built over the past two decades. The program entitles the private “investors” to everything. The investors’ entitlements even trump the mortgage companies.

According to a 10 month investigation from the Washington Post:

Tax lien purchasers have foreclosed on nearly 200 houses since 2005 and are now pressing to take 1,200 more, many owned free and clear by families for generations.Investors also took storefronts, parking lots and vacant land — about 500 properties in all, or an average of one a week. In dozens of cases, the liens were less than $500.

Property owners have 6 months to pay their lien before the “investor” can foreclose on their property and have them evicted by armed federal agents. So then, pay your taxes, or you can be greeted by a gun in your face at the door in 6 months. Never-mind that you “own”  the property.  

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