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City Of Boston Trying To Collect 27-Year-Old Excise Tax Bill

By WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve
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BOSTON (CBS) – A 70-year-old Boston woman got an unpleasant surprise when she tried to renew her driver’s license. The woman was told she couldn’t get her license until she paid an excise tax bill from nearly 30 years ago!

Janice Williams was overcome with emotion at her dining room table Tuesday morning. Why? Money is tight and now she can’t drive. “So I turned 70 and the world is coming to an end here,” Janice says. “A thousand dollars for a car, oh my God!”

You see, she tried recently to renew her driver’s license, but she was told first she had to pay more than a thousand dollars to settle old excise tax bills with the city of Boston. How old? One dates back 27 years to 1987.

Williams says, “well according to the city there is no statute of limitations on this bill so you either pay it or you don’t.”

Williams claims she has no memory of the bills and says she has never had any trouble registering a car or renewing a license over the past three decades.

Shortsleeve asked, “can you pay the thousand dollars?”

Williams responded, “no I can’t. And if I had a thousand dollars, I still wouldn’t pay it until you can prove to me it is me.”

The bills, from the late 80’s, include interest and penalties totaling about $720. The actual tax owed was $200.

So with no license, her car sits in her Mattapan driveway and she needs her daughter to drive her around.

“I am not going to sit back and let someone railroad me into paying something that I don’t even think I owe in the first place,” she says.

Officials at Boston City Hall say residents are responsible for excise taxes back to 1986. But they say this was not part of a larger search for unpaid taxes. They can’t say why it popped up at this time. As for Janice Williams, city officials say they hope to resolve this situation quickly because she has “a strong history of paying on time.” We will let you know.

MORE LOCAL NEWS FROM CBS BOSTON

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