Hanson v. Seaver

Case Type:
Case Status:
16-6023 (8th Circuit, Jan 06,2017) Published

A Minneosta property tax refund was not "government assistance based on need" and could not be claimed under a Minnesota exemption protecting such assistance. 

Procedural context:

The debtor appealed the bankruptcy court's determination that the debtor could not protect a $1,500.00 property tax refund as "government assistance based on need" under the Minnesota exemption statutes. The debtor appealed, and the Eighth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed. 


The debtor received a property tax refund under certain Minnesota statutes. When filing bankruptcy, the debtor opted to use the state exemptions, and claimed the property tax refund as exempt under a state exemption for "government assistance based on need." The bankruptcy court determined that the refund was not designed specifically as a form of assistance to needy (or low-income) residents, and denied the exemption. The debtor appealed. The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel concluded that various amendments to the statute illustrated the legislature's intent "to make the refund available to residents besides the needy" by raising the maximum eligible household income and lowering the threshold income percentage for higher income individuals. There was no basis for finding that the refund provisions were specifically intended to benefit low-income homeowners. In affirming, the BAP concluded that its similar holding in Manty v. Johnson (In re Johnson), 509 B.R. 213 (B.A.P. 8th Cir. 2014), remained valid notwithstanding an intervening decision by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in In re Hardy, 787 F.3d 1189 (8th Cir. 2015). 

Federman, Saladino, and Nail

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