A lien is a way for the government to make a claim on your home when taxes are not paid. While they cannot seize your property, they do get first right to it over other creditors.
By now, the story of Flint, Michigan’s water problem is well known. For more than three years, city residents have not had access to anything resembling clean water. Because of this ongoing problem, they decided to hold back payments, waiting for the problem to be solved so they happily could pay for something they could actually use.
It seemed reasonable, considering the circumstances.
Yet, not content to live with just one current public relations nightmare, the city decided to double down on the controversy and shut off the water supply for 8,000 residents over nonpayment of dirty water bills.
They followed up on that action by threatening tax liens on their homes if Flint residents if they did not pay their water bills by May 19. Notices were sent to those six months or more past due on their bills. Payments not made by the deadline, starts a lengthy process that could see foreclosures as an outcome.
So, why would a city besieged with serious image problems enforce payment of unusable and undrinkable water?
They need the money.
An employee of Flint’s treasury department already claims initial success from the shut-off notices alone. Revenues were up almost $1 million since they were sent. The city now hopes that the lien threats will generate another $6 million.
Meanwhile, Flint’s water system crisis continues in the face of callous decisions that started well before the city denied residents drinkable water and threatened them with the loss of their homes.
Regardless of the circumstances, tax liens are to be taken seriously and handled proactively. When facing off against a powerful government bureaucracy, legal representation is vital to even the odds.