Tax authorities chasing after me

10 years ago I moved out of CT, and they decided to wait until last month that I owed them in property taxes for the car I owned back then. They are asking for more than $700 in interest plus collection fees in addition to the tax bill. Since this was turned over to a collection agency, they threatened all sorts of nasty stuff, such as garnishing wages, filing a lien against me, and reporting me to the credit bureaus so that I will be unable to register a vehicle.

Fortunately a cousin of mine is a tax lawyer, so we had a nice chat. He said for now just write a letter disputing the charge, buy some time, and see what happens.

At this point I really have no idea if I paid the tax, how I paid it, when they billed me, etc. I’m not one who intentionally avoids taxes, so I’m guessing maybe they tried to bill me after I moved out and never reached me. Couldn’t find anything in bank records or past emails, and if I paid by credit card then those records are long gone. Statute of limitations is 20 years so can’t use that card.

Has anyone else had this experience?

If it’s a collection agency:

  1. Do not admit you owe
  2. Do not pay anything until you are sure you will pay it all
  3. Ask for proof. They must give you proof. If they can’t and continue to call, you can get them in a lot of trouble.

How are you doing on these 3 points?

(edit: skimmed over you saying you’ll send a letter disputing it. Good.)

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My cousin told me points 1 and 3, saying that federal law would prevent them from pursuing collection if I disputed.

I’ve shooed away a couple other collection agencies in the past, but one was a hospital and the other was a for-profit corporation. From what I’ve read CT is quite aggressive in their collections.

This. The Federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act requires they do (and don’t do) a number of things. Google it. They have to send you written confirmation with certain details related to the debt, so the next time you talk to them mention the act by name and demand this letter, and don’t speak to them until it arrives.

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Two comments:

  1. In Connecticut, property taxes on cars are based on where the car was registered when the town’s grand list was prepared on 1 October, even though the bill doesn’t come out until 1 July. So, if the grand list was prepared on 1 October 2012, and you moved out-of-state between that date and 1 July 2013, you are liable. (There’s additional consideration if you buy a car after 1 October, but I’m going to ignore that for simplicity.) (Obligatory disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer or tax expert. I just happen to remember seeing an FAQ on the subject.)

  2. As to Connecticut’s tenacity in pursuing tax revenue – I moved to the state on 1 April, several years ago. Because I owed federal taxes that year, I waited until the filing deadline to file my taxes. Later in the year, I got a love-letter from the state essentially saying, “We see you filed federal taxes with a Connecticut address, but we don’t have any record of you paying us state taxes. We think you owe $$$$ in taxes, interest, and penalties. Send us money.” There was a surprising amount of rigmarole I had to go through to convince the state that I wasn’t a resident during the tax year and therefore they weren’t entitled to money or a tax form from me.

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Thanks for the background - sounds like it’s what I expected. I moved out on 12/1/13 so they probably tried to send me a bill on 7/1/14. I probably didn’t receive it, and if I did I may have dismissed it as an error. Whatever the case, it’s nucking futs, even by government bureaucratic standards, that they would wait 9 years to chase after me and hit me with all that interest.

Sounds like CT gave up and sold off your debt to a collection agency for pennies on the dollar. You can always negotiate with the collection agency. Easily knock off 50% or more

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Someone at town hall was probably pitched by the collections agency, saw dollar signs in their eyes, and shipped information on all uncollected fines and taxes.

It sucks, but that’s Connecticut.

You can try to get out of it by following the guidance @Rastiln gave, but remember that your time and stress are worth something too, and at some point it probably will be worth it to pay and make it go away (after, of course, getting assurance that paying will settle the matter, with no further consequences).

Holy crap. I did not know the state could get their hands on our fed tax returns. Kinda scary

Lucky that I have a cousin who can help me out, likely he’ll negotiate them down at the very least.

I don’t know how much detail they can get from the feds, but Connecticut’s tax forms start with “what was your federal AGI”, and then work from there to make adjustments to come up with taxable income and tax liability. They get some kind of an automated feed, which they use in a high-level automated audit process.

(The feds do something analogous, when reconciling data submitted to them and the values input on your tax forms.)

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if many states do something similar. (I don’t remember what the state tax forms in other states where I’ve had to file look like…I’ve been stuck in Connecticut seemingly forever at this point.)

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IL is similar.

I wonder when the town sold the information to the collections agency. Is it possible that the agency let the record “ripen” by waiting a few years before pursuing it, potentially generating additional interest charges?

If so, would that detail (and the threat of complaining about it to regulators) be a useful tool in negotiating the bill down?

Certainly wouldn’t put it past them, though tough to prove that this was intentional vs. bureaucratic incompetence. Makes me glad I didn’t stay in the state very long. Not that I really wanted to leave in the first place, just had a good career opportunity in another state. The only thing I miss about living there was my ex-gf, who was not in a position to disrupt her life to move with me.

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Regardless of whether the amount legally should be owed, my understanding is most collection agencies just get a list of names and debt owed and can’t prove shit. You might be unlucky and they have receipts but I would surely dispute. I bet you’ll get out of it.


FWIW I sent an email to a guy who works in the AG office (he and I were in the Men’s Club at our synagogue). Just reached out for advice, don’t expect him to be any help but doesn’t hurt to ask.

Please update, I love hearing when collectors have to pound sand.

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Why Not Both Take Both GIF - Why Not Both Why Not Take Both ...

Also, be sure to document any and all contacts from the “collections agency” and save all written (physical and electronic) correspondence.

And as someone else stated, dispute the claim. Do it writing and have it sent registered mail with receipt. Then you have a point of reference where you can also build a case for harassment that can further offset your tax liability plus late fees.

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Remember, it was the tax man that got Al Capone!!! :supervillain:

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I can’t speak to the collection agency aspect of it, but in general I would dispute the second point. If you think that you do owe them something at least pay what you’re pretty sure that you do in fact owe as that will stop the clock on interest & penalties. I’d pay directly to the taxing agency if you can. (Even if the collections agency says pay them, feign ignorance and pay the taxing authority anyway.)

If you think you were current when you left Connecticut then ask for a detailed invoice specifying how they arrived at the amount that you owed them. Then you can dispute and say “no, I paid for 2013, and moved before the end of the year, so I do not owe anything for 2014 & beyond” or whatever you think it appropriate.

Also if it ever goes to court you want to pay what you reasonably do owe before that time. Otherwise they can hit you with court costs.

Like if you owe $300 and they send you a bill for $5,000, of which $4,700 is bunk… if you go to court for the whole $5,000 the judge may well award them the $300 that you really do owe, plus $2,500 of court costs on the rationale that they had to go to court to even get the $300 they were legitimately entitled to. But if you’ve already paid the $300 then you’re only fighting over $4,700 and if the judge thinks the $4,700 is without merit then they may have to cover your court costs instead of the other way around.

Also, the smaller the amount that they believe you legitimately owe, the less likely they are to bother with court.