Madison County v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York

In Madison County v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York, Dkt. Nos. 05-6408, 06-5168 & 06-5515 (2d Cir. Apr. 27, 2010, cert. granted, __ U.S. __ (No. 10-72) (Oct. 12, 2010), the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal of Madison County and Oneida County from a decision of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals held the two counties were prevented by the principle of tribal sovereign immunity from moving ahead with a foreclosure action against the Oneida Indian Nation for unpaid county taxes, even though the two counties correctly assessed taxes. One issue for the U.S. Supreme was whether the counties had a legal right to tax the property without any enforceable remedy.

Madison County is located in central New York with four colleges and an industrial base. There is access to the New York State Thruway, Routes 20 and 81 for convenient travel. The towns in Madison County face financial challenges because they may not be growing as expected, resulting in higher taxes to the people.

On January 10, 2011, the United States Supreme Court on the questions “whether tribal sovereign immunity from suit, to the extent it should continue to be recognized, bars taxing authorities from foreclosing to collect lawfully imposed property taxes” and “whether the ancient Oneida reservation in New York was disestablished or diminished.” Oneida Indian Nation had, on November 29, 2010, passed a tribal declaration and ordinance waiving “its sovereign immunity to enforcement of real property taxation through foreclosure by state, county and local governments within and throughout the United States.” See Oneida Indian Nation, Ordinance No. O-10–1 (2010). The US Supreme Court remanded the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit for that court to address whether to revisit its ruling on sovereign immunity in light of new factual development, and address other questions in the case consistent with its sovereign immunity ruling.

The economy is affecting not only individual homeowners when it comes to foreclosures. For New York individuals, Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be a solution for people who have trouble meeting mortgage payments. Chapter 13 is for someone who has a second mortgage such as a home equity line of credit s/he wants to remove, or late mortgage payments s/he wants to consolidate into a repayment plan.

In New York, the test on whether someone qualifies for Chapter 13 depends on a person’s income during the last six months. Divide the person’s income for the past six months by six and multiply by sixty to get an estimated total income for five years. Add monthly living expenses and multiply them by sixty. Subtract total expenses from the estimated total income to get disposable income. Subtract total secured debts from disposable income. If the number is zero or more, the person qualifies for Chapter 13.