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Where’s my two dollars?!

twoDoll.jpgThis is ridiculous.

Kermit and Dolores Atwood have owned their Louisiana home, mortgage-free, since 1968. For a long time, their property was exempt from property tax. This changed at some point and in 1996, they owed a whopping $1.63 in property tax. A bill was sent out, naturally, but it went to a bad address and was returned to the sheriff’s office as undelivered. So in 1997, the house was sold in a tax sale to cover “the $1.63 in unpaid taxes, plus 10 cents interest and $125 in sale costs.” They lost their house over less-than-two dollars!

But it gets better. The Atwoods didn’t learn about this tax sale until 2000, about a week after the deadline when a taxpayer can reclaim sold property. The Atwoods took this whole debacle before the state’s Tax Commission, which did nullify the sale. However, in 2002, they tried to sell their house only to learn that there was a lawsuit pending, filed by a company claiming ownership interests in the house as a result of that tax sale.

And then the house suffered damage from Katrina (the couple is currently living in a FEMA trailer in front of the damaged home) and the Atwoods didn’t qualify for federal aid because their title wasn’t clear (that is, there was a cloud on the title because of this pending lawsuit). Last May, a court ruled that the Atwoods did indeed own full title in the property. The case was of course appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court and the company’s president says that he doesn’t want a long drama, but that he wants his rights recognized. “I’ve been trying to settle this from the very beginning.” He claims that he’s begged the Atwoods to settle, offering to throw the case out for a payment between $2,000 and $5,000. Which seems reasonable, until you remember that they’re living in a FEMA trailer and probably can’t afford to pay shit for this hassle-lawsuit.

All this over $1.63. You really gotta love the legal system sometimes, don’t you?

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To all you bloggers. Thank you for your support of me on the sale of my property for $1.63. What a nightmare this has been. Dolores Atwood