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AARP AARP States Arizona Advocacy

Stopping Home Equity “Theft” in Arizona

AARP AZ, along with the Pacific Legal Foundation, set out this week at the Arizona State Legislature to stop home equity theft for Arizonans.

“How have we gotten to this point where it is feasible vulnerable seniors in Arizona can lose their home for being behind as little as $16 in their taxes,” said Dana Marie Kennedy, AARP AZ State Director.

Arizona is one of only 13 states where homeowners can still lose everything over property tax debts—even tiny ones. In any state, your home may be sold to satisfy unpaid property taxes, but Arizona allows investors (government officials in some cases) to take and keep your entire property—no matter how much equity you had in your home or how little you owe in property tax!

“Most people don’t intentionally fail to pay their entire property taxes. It can be a simple mistake like miscalculating their payment. The elderly, sick, and poor are especially at risk of losing their most valuable asset—their home—for unpaid property taxes,” said Jim Maley, Pacific Legal Foundation Attorney.

The Arizona Legislature has the power to end it this session though House Bill 2445 “The Equity Theft Prevention Act” and new research demonstrates just how compelling the case is for reform in our great state.

The new study (Stop Home Equity Theft in Arizona) indicates that Arizona counties most often transfer tax-foreclosed homes to cover debts that average just one percent of property value, effectively stealing the remaining 99 percent of equity from vulnerable former owners. The analysis of Arizona tax and sales records also demonstrates the following:

· Hundreds of Arizonans lose their homes, a large number of them for tax debts under $500.

· One man lost his home in 2016 over a $16.46 tax debt ($59.57 with interest and fees). He lost the equity equal to 99.9% of the home’s sale price.

· The median equity theft in Maricopa County is $64,000 for a tax debt that is less than 1% of the home’s value.

· Over nine million dollars in equity was taken from homeowners in Maricopa County in the last four years alone.

The Equity Theft Prevention Act (HB 2445) will be heard on Wednesday, February 19 in the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee at 8:30AM.

Provisions in the bill would prevent anyone from losing more than what is owed in tax, penalty, interest, and statutory cost. Once these debts are paid, the remaining money from an auction of the property would be returned to the former owner.

Let’s set things straight to help those in need of help. The Arizona Legislature can now lead the way.


About AARP

AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.

About Pacific Legal Foundation

Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends the liberties of Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. We sue the government when it violates our rights protected by the Constitution. Each year, PLF represents hundreds of Americans, free of charge, who seek to improve their lives but are thwarted by government. We give them their day in court to vindicate their rights and set a lasting precedent to protect everyone else. To learn more, visit or follow us @pacificlegal on social media.

About AARP Arizona
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