Wells Fargo just doing their job? Or crossing a line?

From ThinkProgress:

Why A Bank Was Allowed To Plunder Family Heirlooms That Escaped The Nazis

When Adier died at 82, he was downstairs in the Morristown, New Jersey home where he and his late wife Rita raised their two adopted children. As of his death in August of 2012, that house held the physical and emotional spoils of the Adlersteins’ elusion. Henri’s children hadn’t lived there for years, but they began the painful preparations that follow the death of a parent.

There were practical matters to tend to, and finding the energy to crack open Henri’s handwritten memories was always a task for the future.

The stories and recollections that book contained must have been gripping. Henri didn’t just survive the war. After Paris fell and soldiers sealed his family’s apartment, the boy helped his father – David’s grandfather, a tailor by trade – to sneak into the flat and boost sacred family heirlooms: a kiddish cup, a seder plate, and some other objects.

But they didn’t survive Wells Fargo. Neither did Henri’s diary.

After Henri died and Hurricane Sandy devastated David’s business, he says, financial paperwork involving the Adier family home was slow to process. Henri’s mortgage, which had been current when he died, went unpaid for two months.

Then, a lawsuit by David and Anne Adier alleges, agents under contract to Wells Fargo visited the house in Morristown, New Jersey, and decided it was abandoned. The inspectors’ finding allowed the bank’s property management subcontractor, Lender Processing Services (LPS), to ask the bank to authorize what’s called a “lockout.” The inspectors left a sticker on the Adiers’ door warning that the bank would consider it abandoned and start changing locks unless notified otherwise.

Anne Adier discovered the sticker on November 6, 2012, the Adiers say, and called the company to inform them they were mistaken, that the house was being looked after and didn’t need to be secured on Wells Fargo’s behalf. “They thanked her for calling and assured her nothing would happen to the property,” David said. (Anne declined to be interviewed.)

Three weeks later, though, David arrived to find the locks changed and the house ransacked. David called the police, but “their party line was this is a civil matter between you and the bank.” Despite Anne’s conversation with LPS, Wells Fargo’s contractors had gotten approval to go into the Adier home. They changed the locks. When David finally got back into the house weeks later, he found it ransacked.

Wells Fargo hadn’t initiated foreclosure proceedings, but refused to deal with David until he furnished his father’s death certificate. After he sent that over, he says the bank demanded to see court papers deeming David his father’s executor. When those documents were certified, the bank finally began negotiating with David about the property’s future.

By then it was the spring of 2013. Bank agents had visited the house repeatedly. Almost every material object had been taken, including family photos and a diary Henri kept of his wartime travails.

“It became this game of cat and mouse, until everything of value — down to the brass door knocker — had been taken,” Adier said.

“The way it works in most cases is the bank engages a property preservation company, which then sub-contracts with another company, who then sub-subcontracts with day laborers to save as much money as possible,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Josh Denbeaux, referring to numerous confidential contracts he has seen in other cases but cannot discuss in detail. “The day laborers get paid $10, $12, $15 bucks a pop for doing a drive-by inspection. They get $200 to $300 for a lockout.”

There is little in the way of accountability or professional training to counteract the skewing effect of those wage incentives, according to Center for American Progress housing market expert Julia Gordon. “The compensation to do the work quickly is there,” Gordon told ThinkProgress, but not the kind of compensation that would motivate people to do it correctly.

Wells Fargo doesn’t dispute that its sub-contracted agents conducted a lockout and a trashout on Henri Adier’s home, but believes that it had the proper legal authority to perform any actions necessary to secure a home they thought to be abandoned.

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75 Responses to Wells Fargo just doing their job? Or crossing a line?

  1. Comrade Nom Deplume, celebrating first day of school says:

    Frist

  2. chicagofinance says:

    This lead story is crap…..once it is discovered that the location is no longer secure, everything of value should have been removed immediately. The initial pillage is grounds to sue, the rest of it, while horrible and illegal, I submit is their fault.

  3. walking bye says:

    I believe the story left out some details. Was there a will, who was the executor, and were creditors notified of the death? At a minimum sounds like the estates heirs should have contacted an attorney. Yahoo ran a similar article on reverse mortgages, where the children are shocked to learn they will not inherit their parents home because of the reverse mortgage taken out. There was a lot of “it is rightfully ours and the bank is stealing it” and “it is was my parents home and the would want us to have it” statements in the article.

  4. HeHateMe says:

    what 82 year old still has a mortgage on a home he has owned forever?

  5. Of course, in numerous instances in which subject properties are deemed to be of little/no value relative to the mortgage payoff, WFC and its brethren abandon all responsibility for abandoned properties.

    Dude in the article shoulda lived in Paterson.

  6. hate (4)-

    Bet you $10 grandpa had a reverse mortgage on that joint.

  7. Libturd in Union says:

    “what 82 year old still has a mortgage on a home he has owned forever?”

    One who lived above their means.

  8. Juice Box says:

    re: # 7 – Wife passed away in 2002. “This property was assessed for $444,500.00, and $11,125.84 annually in taxes, Zestimate $637,539. Retired Tailor? He would not have a pension right, be a tough nut to crack for anyone retired.

  9. Libturd in Union says:

    He obviously made the wrong choice in not working for the government.

  10. leftwing says:

    Chi, from Friday….

    Not sure if I got tapped by time value but I did get spanked by the lucky stick.

    Just closed the last piece of the long 9/11 192.50s I bought late Friday for $2.63. Got $4.49 all in. Should have gotten more, but in addition to any time value impact vol also came in a full 10+ points….Feels like I was about 75 cents light.

    Anyway, that’s a 71% profit over the weekend…..:)

  11. Libturd in Union says:

    “Anyway, that’s a 71% profit over the weekend…..:)”

    Almost as good as my average AC trip this year. Though I don’t gamble naked.

  12. leftwing says:

    Yeah, that’s a visual I didn’t need….lol

  13. leftwing says:

    Still going to mug you over to the blackjack tables with me….

  14. Libturd in Union says:

    Captain Cheapo says:

    If you you use Verizon as your cell carrier, immediately go to their website and see if their new pricing will save you some dough. This is even if you recently upgraded to their MORE EVERY UNL TLK TXT plans. The new VERIZON PLAN is truly a step in the right direction for their overpriced plans. Was planning on lowering my data plan now that the travel season is over, but the new plan was just too much better. I ended up on a monthly, no contract plan with 12 GB of data (over 5 phones/iPads) for $30 less than my recently changed plan which only had 8GB. I could have renewed at 6GB for another $16 less, but for that pittance, I’ll gladly allow the 2-year old to stream Miles from Tomorrowland in the car to shut him up.

  15. Libturd in Union says:

    lefty (Chi…don’t read this),

    I don’t play blackjack in AC. For a much better table return and with a strategy a 6-year old could master, play Ultimate Texas Hold’em. The game has a .6% casin0 edge (just slightly worse than AC Blackjack at .42% edge), but rates players at a theoretical loss closer to 6% since so few know how to play it and the casin0’s actually take is rumoured to be around 10%. So based on comp and cashback, of .2%, it’s actually a positive game to the tune of around 100.6%. The big problem with this game is that it is dealt very slowly and the big swings due to the large variance in the game (you get really large payouts for 4 of a kind, straight Flushes and Royals) can leave you broke (risk or ruin) before you get the big hands. Plus, I’m always worried that if I play large amounts, they’ll get hip to my plan. I’ve heard of quite a few guys getting PNGed out from this game. On the bright side, it’s a really fun game to play and the damage is not too bad in the end if you play low limit. Plus it’s easier to learn than blackjack.

  16. 1987 Condo says:

    Lib, I will invite you to my Texas Holdem tournament in CG next Feb…could be an easy $2,000 or so for you.

  17. Libturd in Union says:

    Would love to participate, but poker is a funny game. You could be a Helmuth or a Negarin, but if the cards don’t come, you still lose regardless of how good you are.

  18. 1987 Condo says:

    Hey, $100 gets you dinner and as much beer/wine you can drink and $5000 chips with ability to buy more….i’ll get you details early next year.

  19. Libturd in Union says:

    Cool. I enjoy those events. I took home the big prize at the last event I went to and it was a real classy affair. They brought in professional dealers and felt tables for the event.

  20. 1987 Condo says:

    We have professional dealers, but since I may be more cheapo than you, and it is for charity, you’ll have to do without felt…lol

  21. POS cape says:

    [2]

    Agreed. If there was valuable stuff in the home I think I would have kept the mortgage paid up. Also, how did the family know that the bank ransacked the house? Could have been an everyday burglary. I don’t see how the cops could just wash their hands of it.

  22. Ragnar says:

    Libturd,
    Why don’t you just play Holdem with unsuspecting lambs and win their money instead?

  23. Libturd in Union says:

    Not nearly as studied in regular poker strategy. Plus, nearly every poker expert I know is a habitual loser and degenerate gambler. I don’t even consider myself a gambler since I rarely play a game where I don’t have the advantage. For example, I’ve played a total of $1 in state lotteries, and that $1 was spent when the jackpot was so high that I had true dollar odds after taxes. I did not win.

  24. phoenix says:

    Hmm, I guess the only ones in America that should pay taxes are the working stiffs….

    Bring on the tariffs. I’ll drink the water from my well that is pumped up with the electricity from my solar panel.

    Keurig’s new Swiss operation will be able to record profits by purchasing green coffee beans at one price, and selling them at a markup to the North American businesses that roast the coffee and sell it to consumers, the source said. This effectively shifts profits from the U.S. parent company to the Swiss entity in an entirely legal maneuver.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/tax-exemption-may-key-move-keurig-coffee-buying-053634804.html

  25. phoenix says:

    In the USA (and elsewhere)….

    Legal > Ethical.
    Legal always has a price……..

  26. leftwing says:

    phoenix, old news. everyone does it.

    you too, when you decide that buying a residence is cheaper than renting due to the tax consequences. are you immoral?

    bottom line, the tax code is the tax code and it is entirely unmanageable and indecipherable. if you want these items to stop institute a straight up no deduction flat tax for corporations and people. the distortions will stop.

  27. grim says:

    I’ve worked with a number of consumer coffee companies, I believe Lousanne is a major coffee trading center. I think Kraft, Nestle, Starbucks, etc (and the 30 or so brands just those guys represent) have coffee procurement operations out of there.

    Perhaps there is a tax advantage, but there is also a strong localization of expertise. Makes more sense than Vermont. If anything, Green Mountain is late to the game.

  28. The Great Pumpkin says:

    Why is there no flat tax? The distortions won’t stop until the elite stop rigging the game. Not everyone does it, only the ultra rich. Stop making it sound like everyone is getting a tax break. People like me are stuck picking up the slack for them. I’m not even that old, and I’m stuck paying 30,o00 in property taxes alone to the state of nj. Meanwhile, some of the richest individuals in this state pay next to nothing in property taxes.

    leftwing says:
    September 8, 2015 at 12:35 pm
    phoenix, old news. everyone does it.

    you too, when you decide that buying a residence is cheaper than renting due to the tax consequences. are you immoral?

    bottom line, the tax code is the tax code and it is entirely unmanageable and indecipherable. if you want these items to stop institute a straight up no deduction flat tax for corporations and people. the distortions will stop.

  29. Juice Box says:

    re # ” I’m stuck paying 30,o00 in property taxes alone to the state of nj.”

    I won’t correct you, however I can feel your anger, it gives you focus…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqdJJTDVxYw

  30. grim says:

    You don’t deduct your property taxes when you file?

    If you do, then you are gaming the tax code to your advantage. Next time take the standard deduction instead.

  31. Lib – I’ve played a total of $0 in state lotteries for the same reason, the odds are way worse than the reward. My guess is that in the case of the large pot that prompted you to bet your $1 you may have not calculated the presumably high odds of splitting the pot with another winner, so you were still likely taking a sucker’s bet.

    Not nearly as studied in regular poker strategy. Plus, nearly every poker expert I know is a habitual loser and degenerate gambler. I don’t even consider myself a gambler since I rarely play a game where I don’t have the advantage. For example, I’ve played a total of $1 in state lotteries, and that $1 was spent when the jackpot was so high that I had true dollar odds after taxes. I did not win.

  32. The Great Pumpkin says:

    I guess I’m gaming the system.

    grim says:
    September 8, 2015 at 1:37 pm
    You don’t deduct your property taxes when you file?

    If you do, then you are gaming the tax code to your advantage. Next time take the standard deduction instead.

  33. Libturd in Union says:

    For a $1…I could risk splitting the pot. Of course, the odds of winning your state lottery are about as likely as the feds simplifying the tax code. It’s simply ain’t going to happen.

  34. leftwing says:

    “I’m stuck paying 30,o00 in property taxes alone to the state of nj”

    Second grim’s comment, your deduction is tax avoidance (legal) also. Plus, isn’t NNJ nirvana and one of the traits of this nirvana is that there are “towns and towns” of millionaires? Surely $30k or so is just a blip on the radar….

    “Meanwhile, some of the richest individuals in this state pay next to nothing in property taxes”

    See you are back to just flat out making stuff up again. Show me. And I don’t mean farm assessments (again, legal tax avoidance). I mean show me your exact shrill quote, some of the richest individuals paying next to nothing.

  35. The Great Pumpkin says:

    Yes, I just make stuff up. Go ask Mr. Johnson how much he pays on his 100 acres. Even Springstein is in on it. Go look up the list.

    ““Meanwhile, some of the richest individuals in this state pay next to nothing in property taxes”

    See you are back to just flat out making stuff up again. Show me. And I don’t mean farm assessments (again, legal tax avoidance). I mean show me your exact shrill quote, some of the richest individuals paying next to nothing.”

  36. I never had any doubt.

    The Great Pumpkin says:
    September 8, 2015 at 1:52 pm
    Yes, I just make stuff up.

  37. Essex says:

    This poor blog needs to be euthanized.

  38. Libturd in Union says:

    How DARE you?

  39. D-FENS says:

    @jenanmoussa: UNHCR: Nationalities of Med. sea arrivals
    Syria 53%
    Afghanistan 14%
    Eritria 7%
    Nigeria 3%
    Iraq 3%
    Rest http://t.co/t1QILU33Xs @akhbar

  40. grim says:

    ““Meanwhile, some of the richest individuals in this state pay next to nothing in property taxes”

    Woody Johnson pays $52,500 a year in property taxes on the Bedminster properties – which I believe despite being ~200 acres in aggregate, still represents a single family house. Should also be noted that I believe his primary address is NYC, not NJ, so it’s a second home.

    Saying these guys are paying nothing is a bit of an exaggeration, they always omit the primary parcel that carries the tax bill for the non-farm property.

  41. D-FENS says:

    Everything’s not bad

    http://www.ftportfolios.com/Commentary/EconomicResearch/2015/9/8/everythings-not-bad

    “There is more bad economics, bad math and bad
    information masquerading as analysis these days than we
    have seen at any time in the past 30 years”

  42. grim says:

    41 – We could allow those 200 acres to be plastered in townhomes, after which we could easily yield $10 million in annual property taxes. The other Bedminster residents might take some issue with the 1000 or so new housing units though.

  43. grim says:

    Believe the last time I looked it up, Springsteen was somewhere around $150,000.

  44. grim says:

    By the way, this big revamp/reform of the farmland assessment program was a complete waste of time.

  45. HeHateMe says:

    I was at a lakefront mansion in the Hamptons once of a girls Uncle. They had the house for years. It was next to wetlands and some lake. The uncle back around 1987 donated the entire land to the state of NY except within six feet of house. It was several acres. Got a massive tax deduction and gave him self sold access to land. It was donated as wetlands etc. The catch he can never build or put anything permanent on property.

    Sounds good but I bet flash forward to 2015 I bet he wished he had land back. But then again house was in a family trust to be passed down forever and with super low taxes it may be

  46. HeHateMe says:

    anyone ever hear of 21 Pilots or Panic at the Disco, one of my kids wants me to take them to a show. Before I commit gotta know what I am in for.

  47. Statler Waldorf says:

    test

  48. Statler Waldorf says:

    Link not working, from ZeroHedge:

    698,000 Native-Born Americans Lost Their Job In August: Why This Suddenly Is The Most Important Jobs Chart

    “The chart is especially important because what it shows for just the month of August will be enough to provide the Trump – and every other – campaign with enough soundbites and pivot points to last it for weeks on end: namely, that in August a whopping 698,000 native-born Americans lost their job. This drop was offset by 204,000 foreign-born Americans, who got a job in the month of August.”

  49. The Great Pumpkin says:

    No big deal, right? I pay 30,000 in taxes, why don’t you give me a 100 acres tax free? Why can’t middle class have access to this?

    grim says:
    September 8, 2015 at 3:17 pm
    ““Meanwhile, some of the richest individuals in this state pay next to nothing in property taxes”

    Woody Johnson pays $52,500 a year in property taxes on the Bedminster properties – which I believe despite being ~200 acres in aggregate, still represents a single family house. Should also be noted that I believe his primary address is NYC, not NJ, so it’s a second home.

    Saying these guys are paying nothing is a bit of an exaggeration, they always omit the primary parcel that carries the tax bill for the non-farm property.

  50. The Great Pumpkin says:

    What’s 30,000 to me? What’s 52,000 to woody Johnson? It’s a drop in the bucket for him. What % of his income is that? Prob not even .5%. It’s bs!! How you guys defend this bs is sickening.

  51. grim says:

    You pay $30k on a single family house?

  52. grim says:

    I proposed a significant increase in the minimum income per acre to qualify, but nobody cared what I said.

  53. joyce says:

    Property taxes shouldn’t be based on one’s income. They should be based on their net worth, clearly. Actually, all government taxes and fees should be a percentage of your network.

    Quarterly sewer bill should be 2% of Woody Johnson’s wealth
    Annual car registration for Jay Leno should be 1.5%, per car

  54. grim says:

    I believe the estimate is $82 million lost to farmland assessment abuses. Realize that Woody is the exception, for every Woody there are 250 middle and low income homeowners in the exurbs playing the same game.

  55. The Great Pumpkin says:

    Just like elite like it, flood the job market. Of course they see nothing wrong with this, it’s the free market. But flood their market with a cheaper product and they lobby the govt for protection. Such bs.

    Small business owners should be rioting too, they can’t compete with the elite who take their business to Vietnam and take advantage of slave labor. How is a small business owner expected to compete? So much wrong here, I don’t know where to begin.

    Statler Waldorf says:
    September 8, 2015 at 4:38 pm
    Link not working, from ZeroHedge:

    698,000 Native-Born Americans Lost Their Job In August: Why This Suddenly Is The Most Important Jobs Chart

    “The chart is especially important because what it shows for just the month of August will be enough to provide the Trump – and every other – campaign with enough soundbites and pivot points to last it for weeks on end: namely, that in August a whopping 698,000 native-born Americans lost their job. This drop was offset by 204,000 foreign-born Americans, who got a job in the month of August.”

  56. leftwing says:

    Classic Pumpkin. His blanket out the a$$ statement proven wrong, change topic.

    They do not pay next to nothing. They pay a lot in property taxes.

    They advantage themselves (as do you) of tax avoidance in the tax code. QED.

  57. grim says:

    I know plenty of 7 acre “horse farms” which are really just government subsidized hobbiests.

  58. leftwing says:

    And if you want farmland assessment for 100 acres, go buy 100 farmland assessed acres. Nobody stopping you.

  59. leftwing says:

    Grim, again no problem. Take away the farmland assessment. Doesn’t matter to me. As you point out larger plots will be subdivided. Actions have reactions, except in Liberal-land, Township of Schumer.

    I just get tired of a total misrepresentation of the facts and then faux outrage at perfectly legal tax avoidance measures, particularly when everyone partakes in their own.

  60. leftwing says:

    Joyce, lol, when I was in Europe I did a fair amount of business in Sweden. Nice med, medtech industry base. Apparently their speeding tickets are based on income, as a better deterrent. Recall something hitting the papers, some hotshot entrepreneur who just cashed in a bunch of options the year before got nailed at an unusually high rate of speed. Per the formula off his tax return the speeding fine was c. $1m. Hahaha.

  61. NJT says:

    ‘The Man’ is holding him down/stopping him. Don’t you know that? :). Lotta good laughs here today.

    BTW – STILL havn’t got my Trump hats yet…my daughter (12) is getting impatient.

  62. NJT says:

    Re: Wells. Never encountered so many sociopaths in once place though Chubb was close and I’ve worked all over the U.S. in various IT roles. Goldman might be number one but they didn’t want to hire me because I had too much ‘debt’ (rental properties with mortgages). They were afraid I might steal! LOL!

  63. The Great Pumpkin says:

    Make me do work to prove to you I’m not making it up. You are the problem, how you defend this bs is beyond me. You doing the same thing? Why else would you support this?

    “Today, while many working class and middle class people are trying hard to survive from paycheck to paycheck and when millions of Americans are out of work and unable to find new jobs that pay them a living wage, it’s hard to accept the fact that huge corporations like GE may not be paying any taxes at all while receiving tax rebates. It’s also maddening to see millionaires and billionaires who blew a hole in our economy and nearly caused a financial meltdown getting bailed out with OUR tax dollars.

    It appears that the ultra-rich get all the breaks. Still, it seems many of them keep looking for different ways to hold onto their wealth by avoiding taxes while letting those of us who are less fortunate financially pay more than our share. Some of the well-heeled have even found a way to pay less than their fair share of local property taxes. They do that by claiming their large estates and properties as agricultural land. Here are the names of some of the “faux farmers” in New Jersey who have had their real estate taxes drastically reduced: Malcolm “Steve” Forbes, Jon Bon Jovi, E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg, Publishing magnate Donald E. Newhouse, former CEO of Commerce Bank Vernon Hill II, and Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson IV, heir to Johnson & Johnson and owner of the New York Jets football team.

    Wealthy gentleman “farmers” haven’t just been gaming the system in New Jersey—they’ve been doing it in Texas, Florida, Iowa, Colorado, Alabama, and in many other states across this country. The tragedy of this tax avoidance by those who can well afford to pay more is that it is costing local governments the revenue they need to run their communities properly.

    Several years ago, Art Cory, who was the chief appraiser for Travis Central Appraisal district in Texas, said: “It just seems to me that everyone ought to pay their fair share. That’s not happening now (American-Statesman, 2003). In regard to the agricultural tax break, Cory added, “You can go out and cut some brush, put out some feed and count the deer once a year and qualify.”

    According to an article in The Nation, that’s what Michael Dell did with his second home—a suburban ranch in Austin. Because he hunted there periodically and maintained a “well-managed deer herd,” he was able to reduce the property’s 2005 market value from $71.4 million to an agricultural value of $290,000. That saved Dell—but cost Texas—$1.2 million. In 2007, The Wall Street Journal reported that Korea’s Samsung Electronics was able to qualify for a “wildlife management” agricultural tax exemption on more than fifty acres of land outside its semiconductor plant in Austin simply by erecting some birdhouses, eradicating ants, and taking a wildlife census. By doing that, the company reduced its tax bill by nearly 100%–from $21, 080 to $135! It’s sad to note that all the agricultural tax breaks in Texas have cost public schools in the state $1.5 billion in lost revenue.”

    http://jonathanturley.org/2011/04/17/wealthy-%E2%80%9Cfaux-farmers%E2%80%9D-get-huge-agricultural-tax-breaks-on-their-properties/

    leftwing says:
    September 8, 2015 at 6:10 pm
    Classic Pumpkin. His blanket out the a$$ statement proven wrong, change topic.

    They do not pay next to nothing. They pay a lot in property taxes.

    They advantage themselves (as do you) of tax avoidance in the tax code. QED.

  64. The Great Pumpkin says:

    cont.

    “A Few More Examples of Agricultural Tax Breaks

    Colorado: Assessors in the state were reported to have said that even parking lots have qualified for agricultural tax breaks after some cows were brought in to graze on grassy strips between lanes. (Common Dreams)

    Florida: Walt Disney World has received a farming tax break on 1,600 acres where it grows plants for its theme parks. At the time this was reported, the land owned by Disney was actually valued at $194 million but was taxed on a value of $12.3 million. (Common Dreams)

    Alabama: In Mobile County, Ala., Delaney’s Inc. has planted pine seedlings on 54 acres left over after building a Hampton Inn, Marriott Courtyard, Lowe’s and Wal-Mart. This “tree farm” has been subdivided and laced with paved streets in preparation for development, and local officials insist that the land is not suitable for growing timber. But the developer’s lawyer pointed out that the law doesn’t require Delaney’s to be a good farmer — just a farmer. The result: a 2003 tax bill of $152 instead of $64,230. (Common Dreams)

    Here are more details on the wealthy “faux” farmers who have been getting agricultural tax breaks in New Jersey from New Jersey: “Fake” farms get tax breaks (Asbury Park Press)

    The rolls of those with farm-assessed land in New Jersey read like a who’s who in the world of high finance, business and entertainment. Those in the rich-and-famous category with approved applications for tax breaks in 2009 and 2010 include:

    — Financier Michael C. Price, with a net worth of $1.4 billion, Bedminster: 92 farm-assessed acres, on which he paid $359 in taxes in 2009.

    — Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson IV, heir to Johnson & Johnson and owner of the New York Jets football team, Bedminster: 269 acres, $1,470 in 2009.

    — Publishing magnate Donald E. Newhouse, with a net worth of $5.4 billion, Hopewell Township: 273 acres, $1,787 in taxes for 2010; in West Amwell, 77 acres, $611 in taxes in 2010.

    — Publishing magnate Malcolm “Steve” Forbes, including properties with his wife, Sabina, Bedminster: 450 acres, $2,005 in taxes in 2009.

    — E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg, Middletown: 34 acres, $122 in taxes in 2010.

    — Rock star Jon Bon Jovi, Middletown: 7.1 acres, $104 in taxes in 2010.

    — Lamington Farm Club, under the corporate umbrella of entrepreneur and TV personality Donald Trump, Bedminster: 195 acres; $277.

    — John Whitman, husband of former Gov. Christie Whitman, Tewksbury: 167 acres, $1,521; in Bedminster: 65 acres; $173.

    — Vernon Hill II, former CEO of Commerce Bank, Moorestown: 29 acres, $79 in 2010.

    Now, let’s take a closer look at just one of the New Jersey “farmers” on the list above—Malcolm “Steve” Forbes. I bet you didn’t know that Forbes was into animal husbandry, did you? Well, Forbes actually raises show cows on his property, which qualifies for the agricultural tax break because it generates at least $500 in revenue annually. From The Center for Public Integrity (2000): “His New Jersey farm meets the state’s revenue test, with about $5,500 in yearly income, and he gets the federal write-offs for raising cattle, too.”

    The Center for Public Integrity also reported the property that Forbes owns would have been valued at $9 million if he didn’t stock it with his show cows. An assessor had estimated that the land would be assessed at only $160, 531 because of the cows. So…Forbes paid a paltry $2,215 tax bill on his 449-acre estate because prize bovines were grazing there.

    Well, there you have it, folks. That’s just one of the ways that the rich hold onto their riches. It’s also one of the ways that our cities and towns are losing out on essential tax revenues that are needed to pay for schools and other community services .”

  65. The Great Pumpkin says:

    I’m not a billionaire, you just don’t get it. Why is a billionaire paying a lower % on taxes, because he makes more money? How does that make any sense. You act like they pay more than enough, yet percentage wise, they pay less than me, yet make 500 times more than me. No idea where your thought process comes from to defend this madness.

    leftwing says:
    September 8, 2015 at 6:14 pm
    And if you want farmland assessment for 100 acres, go buy 100 farmland assessed acres. Nobody stopping you.

  66. grim says:

    Look up the actual property taxes being paid, not the amount attributed to completely vacant, unimproved land.

  67. grim says:

    That says Johnson pays $1470, only partially correct because it omits the $50k+ he pays on the part of the property that has been improved (house, yard, pool, etc).

  68. The Great Pumpkin says:

    This is what really pisses me off about you, lefty. These people can afford to pay it. Even if it is a tax law, they should do the right thing and not act like they are a “farmer” to gain a tax advantage. Yet, you defend billionaires that claim to be farmers in the name of tax avoidance.

    “Wealthy gentleman “farmers” haven’t just been gaming the system in New Jersey—they’ve been doing it in Texas, Florida, Iowa, Colorado, Alabama, and in many other states across this country. The tragedy of this tax avoidance by those who can well afford to pay more is that it is costing local governments the revenue they need to run their communities properly.”

  69. The Great Pumpkin says:

    Because he pays 50k on a part of a property, it’s okay to not pay for the rest? If he doesn’t want to pay taxes on it, donate it to the govt in the name of preserved land. Right now, he pays no taxes on it, when he goes to sell, he makes a f’in killing. All profit. Can I sit on land going up in value and not pay property taxes on it?

    grim says:
    September 8, 2015 at 7:03 pm
    That says Johnson pays $1470, only partially correct because it omits the $50k+ he pays on the part of the property that has been improved (house, yard, pool, etc)

  70. Juice Box says:

    Lots of preserved land by me, 250 acres surrounding my house, I can hike there anytime. We also have lots and lots of hobbyist horse farms nearby, a few Vinyards and heck one family donated their estate to Monmouth County, you can rent the place for parties if you like. One thing we don’t have is angry Pumpkins.

  71. The Great Pumpkin says:

    You are right, I don’t know why I get upset about this. Waste of time, it’s just the way it is. It will never change.

    It’s like the workplace, every single job I was ever at, there were always the suckers that did way more than they are supposed to, and then there were always the others that did way less than they were supposed to. I don’t know if I should describe them as the smart ones or the a-holes.

    Juice Box says:
    September 8, 2015 at 7:31 pm
    Lots of preserved land by me, 250 acres surrounding my house, I can hike there anytime. We also have lots and lots of hobbyist horse farms nearby, a few Vinyards and heck one family donated their estate to Monmouth County, you can rent the place for parties if you like. One thing we don’t have is angry Pumpkins.

  72. 1987 Condo says:

    #52.. I believe pumpkin is including his primary residence and his rental in the $30,000

  73. Somebody drive a plow through Blumpy’s skull.

  74. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    Duh. He’s neither an earner nor an intellect, just someone who received some pity properties. You’ve read some of his posts, right? I imagine his wife as having some decent career at Cisco or some big pharma company while he sits around and tries to pretend he’s a vaunted economist. I’m quite sure he has Jerry Springer on his flat screen and posts during the commercials because he doesn’t know how the DVR or buffer works.

    #52.. I believe pumpkin is including his primary residence and his rental in the $30,00

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