Detroit bills woman for taxes she claims she paid - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Detroit bills woman for taxes she claims she paid

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DETROIT (WJBK) -

The City of Detroit is clawing its way through a financial nightmare.  To its credit, the Finance Department is going after every penny that may be owed to the city, but some Detroiters say they're barking up the wrong tree because they've already paid their taxes.

"This can not be real."  That's what Fran Ferguson said when she received a bill from the City of Detroit.

"It said that I owed them $3,315 in back taxes for the [years] of 2008, 2009 and 2010," she said, and that was including penalties.

"I was extremely stressed out to the point to where I almost couldn't function at work," Ferguson explained.  "I work for a major corporation.  They've been taking out taxes for the 14 years that I've worked for them."

She's one of a growing number of Detroiters who say the city sent them notices claiming they owe thousands of dollars in back taxes, taxes they say they've already paid.

Ferguson says one of her friends, a retired Detroit police officer, received a bill and so did a co-worker.

"One of my co-workers sent back the letter and the form with more colors than Skittles' got in a bag," she said.

The city's finance director, Cheryl Johnson, made it clear.  Going after unpaid taxes is a big part of the city's effort to get back in the black, and, of course, there are plenty of people who have yet to pay up.  In a statement released Tuesday, Johnson says letters were sent to individuals only when Detroit Finance Department records showed that person paid federal or state taxes for a particular year, but did not file a tax return with the City of Detroit.

"For each year I filed the taxes, owed them nothing for '08, '09, and the city owes me $1.00 for 2010, but yet they say I owe them over $600," said Ferguson.

She hasn't seen that dollar, but what she does have is her paperwork proving she doesn't owe a dime.  But getting such an outrageous bill is insulting enough.

"I have medical bills and if I hadn't looked up my paperwork, I would be sending off payments, making payment arrangements.  That's not right," Ferguson remarked.

The city says the best thing to do in this situation is to make sure that you filed your city tax returns and to make sure that you have proof that you filed them.

If you believe you've received a notice in error, make sure that you contact the city at (313) 224-3330.

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