County of Milwaukee v. List of Tax Liens (WI)

Summary: When the County followed all of the statutory procedures to foreclose its tax lien, defenses such as the lack of county jurisdiction on federal land patent, payment other than in cash, the lack of a requisite tax certificate under a different statute, and an unconstitutional taking are no avail.


County of Milwaukee v. List of Tax Liens for 2011 #1, 349 Wis. 2d 788 (Wis. Ct. App. 2013) (unpublished disposition).


Facts: Gary Charles Lizalek (Gary) failed to pay property taxes. County of Milwaukee (the County) brought an action to foreclose its tax lien on Gary’s land. Wis. Stat. § 75.521(7) (2011–12). Litigating pro se, Gary raised five defenses. First, Gary argued that the County had no right to tax his land because he was an assignee of a federal land patent originally conveyed by the federal government in 1837. Second, Gary tried to pay in gold coins and a promissory note, but the County refused to accept those. Third, the circuit court was biased because it assisted the County’s attorney, but not Gary, in presenting the case. Fourth, the County did not have a tax certificate as required by a statute. Wis. Stat. § 75.19 (2011–12). Last, the County’s foreclosure was an unconstitutional taking. The circuit court rejected these arguments and ruled for the County. Gary appealed the circuit court’s judgment of foreclosure and an order denying Gary’s motion for reconsideration.


Holding: Affirmed. The appellate court considered each of Gary’s arguments and dismissed all of them. First, the fact that the land was a federal land patent is irrelevant in ascertaining the County’s right to its tax claim. Federal government conveyances of property by federal land patent do not prevent the creation of subsequent interests in the land, including claims under state law. Wisconsin v. Glick, 782 F.2d 670, 672 (7th Cir. 1986). Second, the payment of taxes must be in cash, or if the taxpayer wishes to pay in other methods, he needs to point to a statutory authority that allows him to do so. Gary didn’t cite any authority, and the County couldn’t determine the value and authenticity of the gold coins. Third, Gary’s argument that the circuit court is biased against him was undeveloped and conclusory, failing to rebut the presumption of fairness and impartiality given to a judge’s action in discharging his or her duties. Fourth, the County didn’t need a tax certificate to validly foreclose its tax lien on Gary’s land because the statute under which the County brought the case didn’t require a tax certificate. The County complied with all elements of the statute. Wis. Stat. § 75.521 (2011–12). Last, the County’s foreclosure did not amount to an unconstitutional taking because the County strictly adhered to the statutory procedures. Id. The County’s action did not violate a due process. For these reasons, the appellate court upheld the circuit court’s judgment of foreclosure and order.

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By: ATG Underwriting Department | Posted on: Mon, 03/10/2014 - 4:42pm