All Posts by Empower Wisconsin

Taxation by citation

By Jacob Sullum, Reason

The town of Lantana, Fla. is demanding that Sandy Martinez pay it $165,000 in fines, which is nearly four times her annual income and more than half what her house is worth. The municipal code violations that led to those fines are decidedly less impressive: driveway cracks, a storm-damaged fence, and cars parked on her own property in an “unapproved” manner.

Martinez argues that Lantana’s absurdly disproportionate response to her trivial infractions violates the state constitution’s ban on “excessive fines.” The Institute for Justice, which represents Martinez, says the case epitomizes “taxation by citation,” the perverse practice of using code enforcement to raise revenue rather than protect public safety.

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