SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) - A Detroit woman was at her wits' end when the City of Detroit claimed she hadn't paid her income taxes--21 years ago!
Alisa LaBrecque told us she is meticulous when it comes to her taxes.
She has kept her tax return records ever since 1995.
That's more than twice as long as the IRS typically recommends.
We met her at a Southfield medical office where she works. She explained that she has always filed her tax returns on time.
"That's one thing I always make sure of," said LaBrecque.
So, she was floored when she received word from the City of Detroit that she owed back taxes.
TAX DISPUTE...FROM 1992!
She will never forget talking with somebody in the Finance Division about it.
"'We can't find your 1992 taxes. So, you didn't file them.' LaBrecque recalls the representative saying. "And I'm like, ‘Okay, so if you can't find them, then you just assume I didn't do it?!'"
LaBrecque says the City of Detroit Finance Department Income Tax Division claimed she owed back taxes from 1992 now amounting to $3,290.95.
The single mother has lived in Detroit 21 years.
She has two sons in college.
An unexpected bill like this is a big deal to her.
But tracking down proof from 21 years ago?
"There is no way I can reproduce those documents. I called the employer I used to work with. And they said, 'Oh, honey. We don't have those. We're not obligated.'"
She sent in all of her tax records that she still had in her possession, contacted an attorney, sent letters to the City of Detroit, and made call after call to the Finance Department to try to resolve the matter.
She had no luck for six years!
PEACE...FROM A PIECE OF PAPER
Just when she was about to lose hope, she experienced what she calls a little miracle.
She stumbled upon a scrap of paper when she was going through some old family photos.
It was her late ex-husband's pay stub from 1992.
"[It was dated] December 18 th, and right at the bottom it said local taxes taken out," she smiled.
It noted $330.98 had been deducted from his paycheck so far that year for City of Detroit income taxes.
There was her proof!
But the city's Treasury Division wouldn't budge.
"I again called my former employer, and they're the ones who suggested [I] call Channel 7. And I'm like, 'Well, why not? What can it hurt?" said LaBrecque
Our Call For Action team started working the case this summer after LaBrecque got in touch with us.
We contacted the city, and even pointed out that LaBrecque said she was due refunds the city had withheld.
UNEXPECTED PAY DAY
A few weeks later, she received a call from someone in the Finance Department explaining her balance due the City of Detroit was now zero!
Then she received another surprise in the mail.
On August 1st, Alisa LaBrecque received four different income tax refund checks from the city of Detroit totaling $169.00.
7 Action News emailed Bill Nolling -- the spokesman for Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. We asked him for a comment on this case.
He replied, "Clearly there was a mix-up. We are glad it was cleared up, but it shouldn't have taken this long or required such a Herculean effort. It illustrates why the emergency manager is focused on restructuring city services so it can provide quality and reliable service."
Labrecque is just relieved the ordeal is all behind her.
"It got done thanks to you guys. I'm really, really, really appreciative of that," she said choking up.
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