Constitutional & Property Law—Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause & Notice to Be Heard— It Felt So Right but Was All So Wrong: United States Supreme Court Rules Arkansas's Tax-Foreclosure Notice Procedure Fails to Satisfy Due Process Clause When Certified Mail Notice Returns "Unclaimed." Jones v. Flowers, 126 S. Ct. 1708 (2006).
Local governments in the United States still rely on real property taxation as a dominant source of revenue. Rather than establish a clear, uniform model of tax collection, the federal government allows each state to develop its own form of governance, resulting in over 150 different tax collection systems within the United States. Unfortunately, not all property taxes are paid, and the county government must seize the delinquent taxpayer's property in order to fulfill the taxpayer's obligation. The Constitution requires the government to give the delinquent taxpayer notice of the pending action. Although recently it appears that the Supreme Court has been increasing the due process requirements for notice before a tax foreclosure sale, the Court has never clearly stated a due process standard for what constitutes constitutionally adequate notice. One of the Court's most recent attempts to provide guidelines for sufficient notice before a tax foreclosure proceeding was Jones v. Flowers, in which the Court sought to answer the question whether due process requires a state to take additional reasonable steps to provide a property owner with notice of a tax sale when a certified mailing notice of the sale is returned with the state "unclaimed."
This note explores the historical development of the due process notice requirement for tax foreclosure procedures in the United States Supreme Court and Arkansas's development of the notice requirement. Next, this note discusses the Jones case itself, in which in essence, the Court fails to consider the interests of the state in requiring additional steps after the post office returns attempted notice "unclaimed" without providing some indication of what direction the state should follow to meet the due process requirement. Finally, it analyzes some of the problems with the Jones case as well as some questions the Court leaves unanswered and outlines some of the immediate effects the Court's decision has within the state of Arkansas.
Jenny Wilkes Robertson,
Constitutional & Property Law—Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause & Notice to Be Heard— It Felt So Right but Was All So Wrong: United States Supreme Court Rules Arkansas's Tax-Foreclosure Notice Procedure Fails to Satisfy Due Process Clause When Certified Mail Notice Returns "Unclaimed." Jones v. Flowers, 126 S. Ct. 1708 (2006).,
30 U. Ark. Little Rock L. Rev. 179
Available at: http://lawrepository.ualr.edu/lawreview/vol30/iss1/7