Since 2007, the federal Mortgage Debt Relief Act has helped distressed homeowners who have had mortgage debt forgiven after a foreclosure, short sale, or loan modification. The law made it possible for these homeowners to exclude the forgiven debt from their calculation of taxable income, saving them thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars, in taxes that could have been owed.

Two huge settlements with the biggest U.S. banks — dubbed the National Mortgage Settlement and the Independent Foreclosure Review — involved millions of wronged homeowners thrust into foreclosure. But that’s not enough to convince Wall Street Journal editorial board member Mary Kissel.

The retired Marine sergeant owed $134 in property taxes, but the D.C. local government sold the tax lien to an investor who foreclosed on his $197,000 house. The Washington Post has chronicled this new trend borne out of the financial crisis that left many local governments scrambling to collect unpaid property taxes.