Senator Bonnie Westlin Presents Legislation to Fix Minnesota’s Tax-Forfeiture System

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Today, the Senate Environment, Climate, and Legacy Committee passed Senate File 4985, a bill designed to address the unconstitutional nature of the state’s tax-forfeiture system. Authored by Senator Bonnie Westlin (DFL – Plymouth), this bill is in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Tyler v. Hennepin County.

The proposal creates a new process that ensures fairness, allowing impacted parties to claim any surplus profits that arise from the sale of tax-forfeited property. The bill is narrowly tailored to address the Tyler decision only, providing a clear and equitable path for all parties involved.

“We need to make sure this process is clean, transparent, and equitable to those who are going through the tax-forfeiture process,” said Senator Westlin. “This legislation keeps many of the factors that make Minnesota unique and responsive to property owners, including a long redemption period, payment plan opportunities that extend the redemption window, ample noticing periods, and more. This legislation would retain the familiarity of our old system while making necessary revisions to respond to the Supreme Court decision.”

The question before the Court in Tyler looked at whether the failure to return surplus sale proceedings constituted an unconstitutional taking without just compensation, in violation of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Court unanimously held that it did and that a state may not retain tax sale proceeds in excess of the amount of taxes owed at the time of forfeiture unless the state first provides an opportunity for the owner of the property at the time of forfeiture to recover the surplus.

The bill was passed and now moves on to the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee for consideration. You can watch the entire bill presentation here

Senator Bonnie Westlin represents Senate District 42 which includes Maple Grove, Medicine Lake, and Plymouth. She is vice chair of the Elections Committee and serves on the Education Finance Committee and the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.

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