Smith v. Sipi, LLC, No. 15-1166 (7th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
The Smiths lived in a Joliet home, title to which passed to wife in 2004 as an inheritance. Real estate taxes had gone unpaid in 2000, resulting in a tax lien. At a 2001 auction, SIPI purchased the tax lien and paid the delinquent taxes—$4,046.26—plus costs and was awarded a Certificate of Purchase. Smith did not redeem her tax obligation. SIPI recorded its tax deed in 2005 and sold the property to Midwest for $50,000. In 2007, the Smiths filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy relief and sought to avoid the tax sale. The bankruptcy judge and the Seventh Circuit found a fraudulent transfer (11 U.S.C. 548(a)(1)(B)) because the property was not transferred for reasonably equivalent value, but found Midwest a subsequent transferee in good faith. The 1994 Supreme Court decision, BFP v. Resolution Trust, that a mortgage foreclosure sale that complies with state law is deemed for “reasonably equivalent value” as a matter of law, does not apply in Illinois. Unlike mortgage foreclosure sales and some other states’ tax sales, Illinois tax sales do not involve competitive bidding where the highest bid wins. Instead, bidders bid how little money they are willing to accept in return for payment of the owner’s delinquent taxes. The lowest bid wins; bid amounts bear no relationship to the value of the real estate.