The Columbia Heights property where Dorothy Brizill and Gary Imhoff‘s three-story brick home used to stand was auctioned off at the D.C. tax sale earlier this month. Their house on Girard Street NW burned down in 2012 and had been in a state of disrepair for years before that.
The couple of good-government watchdogs who co-founded the DC Watch and for years have been a thorn in the side of city bureaucrats, owe $58,215.23 in back property taxes, according to the tax sale list.
D.C. resident Theresa Bollech, who attended the sale last week and has had her own past issues with the tax sale, tells LL that the property went to a bidder who offered up $75,000. A spokesperson for the Office of Chief Financial Officer confirms that amount, and says the bid came from Andy and Debbie Wilson, LLC. The 2019 property assessment is $836,000.
Andy and Debbie Wilson, LLC has bid at several tax sales over the years, dating back to at least 2010, according to the buyers’ books published on the Office of Tax and Revenue’s website.
Brizill says that LL’s phone call alerting her to the sale last month is the first she heard of it. And she says the Office of Tax and Revenue records showing the tens of thousands in back taxes are not accurate.
Brizill says she applied for property tax deferment with the Office of Tax and Revenue soon after the house burned to the ground. The couple’s property tax bill from 2016 shows that their taxes increased from $1,488 in 2012 to $5,947 in 2015, going up each year in between.
“I was told to resubmit the forms and everything was fine and they would take care of it,” Brizill tells LL.
The CFO spokesperson, David Umansky, says he can’t find an application for tax deferral for Brizill and Imhoff’s property, but Brizill insists she submitted one. She says that she confirmed the application with an official in the tax and revenue office as recently as last year.
“We’ve had multiple offers over time [to purchase the property] and haven’t been moved to make a decision,” she says. “The tax bill is a mistake in terms of the amount, and we applied for a deferral on the property taxes until we sold the property.”
A notice of tax sale sent to Brizill and Imhoff earlier this year shows that in recent years their yearly property tax bill has ranged from about $6,000 to $7,000, in addition to thousands more in penalties and interest. Online OTR data, which begins in 2005, shows the couple paid property taxes from ’05 until 2011—payments ranging from about $700 to $3,000 per year. Their house burned down in 2012, and their next, and final, posted payment came in July 2016 for $5,000.
The property was also auctioned off at the 2017 tax sale. The bidders, Wendigo 16, LLC, filed for foreclosure in 2018, but the case was later dismissed, and the District ended up agreeing to pay the company $2,800 to cover its legal fees, according to court records.
Brizill and Imhoff have six months before bidders in this year’s auction can file for foreclosure. To redeem the property, the civic activists would have to cover the delinquent tax bill.