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IRS defeated in quest for real estate back taxes

Subsequent home sales create shelter for tax scofflaws

The Internal Revenue Service wants to foreclose on a house occupied by its former owners, Thomas and Joen Towne. They owe the government about $329,000. But the house is owned by Peter Swan and his wife, Jane Harris. Swan is the attorney for the Townes. The government argues the Townes are the real owners of the house in which they live. If this is correct, the government can seize the house to satisfy its tax lien against them. Purchase Bob Bruss reports online. "But if they are merely tenants, the government can no more seize the house than it could seize Trump Tower because one of its tenants owed back taxes," the judge commented. Mr. Towne has lived in the house since 1976 and owned it until 1987 when the mortgage lender foreclosed and obtained a judicial deed to the house. The lender then sold the house to Jack Shull, a friend of Towne's, who leased the house back to him. But the Townes defaulted on their rent payments. In 1999 Shull tried to evict them. However,...

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