5 On Your Side

83-year-old fights state over taxes she doesn't owe

Posted February 20, 2014

Amanda Lancaster of Rocky Mount never expected to get a notice from the North Carolina Department of Revenue threatening to garnish her bank account for past-due taxes.

“I almost cried when I saw they might come get my money,” she said. “When I got a letter in February of last year, 2013, saying I owed some state tax, I said, ‘No, I don’t!’”

With penalties and fees, the bill climbed to more than $2,200.

“I thought, ‘I don't have $2,000 to give them,’"

At 83, Lancaster lives on a small, fixed monthly income. Because of that, she was advised years ago that there’s no need for her to file a tax return.

She called the Department of Revenue multiple times and got nowhere. Then Lancaster contacted accountant Ronnie Williford for help.

Williford said he thought the problem would be simple to resolve.

“Boy, was I wrong,” he said.

Williford said he sent the department the required paperwork, which proved she didn’t owe anything, about a dozen times.

“The same thing, over and over and over and over," he said.

Then, Lancaster decided to contact 5 On Your Side, which got in touch with the Department of Revenue on her behalf.

Staffers got on the case and quickly determined Lancaster did not owe any taxes.

So what was the hang up?

Revenue Department Spokesman Trevor Johnson would not talk about Lancaster’s particular case or the department’s audit process. But he did say that he does not feel it’s typical for taxpayers to have to resubmit information and forms over and over again

A year after her problem started, Lancaster said she’s thrilled it’s finally over.

“From now on, I'll file state tax and let them get it and read it and throw it in the trash - or whatever they want to do with it," she said.


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  • archmaker Feb 24, 2014

    the IRS will assume you make the same income you made the last time you filled a tax return if you don't file one (therefore they think that she owes).

    if you don't file a tax return, you haven't proven to them you don't owe taxes.

    [quote][/At 83, Lancaster lives on a small, fixed monthly income. Because of that, she was advised years ago that there’s no need for her to file a tax return.quote]bad advice! the best advice for her would be to stop using a "wesley snipes accountant" and find someone who knows what they are doing.

  • common tater Feb 21, 2014

    "Does not feel it's typical"... how about a response based on facts. What portion of audits resulting in a bill turn out to be at least partially wrong? Happened to me with the feds...cost me $500 plus lawyer fees just to file an appeal to get them to correct THEIR error. They think if they just keep sending a bill most people will give up and pay it.

  • raleighboy524 Feb 21, 2014

    As someone who spent months fighting a bogus bill from UNC Hospitals, I am in complete sympathy with this woman's plight and experience dealing with government bureaucrats. While I ultimately won the fight over the bill, the state flatly refused to refund a portion of the bill I never owed that it went ahead and deducted from my state income tax refund. My solution would be for the General Assembly to permit citizens to fine the state agency responsible for the aggravation -- say a percentage of the amount the agency accused the person of owing.

  • dollibug Feb 21, 2014

    This is the GOVERNMENT at WORK******they are always RIGHT....I thought everyone knew this.

  • spunkyisbackagain Feb 21, 2014

    I'm glad that 5 on your side responded to someone. I have called and gotten no response.

  • nctaxguy Feb 21, 2014

    Maybe Ms. Lancaster should read the filing instructions for each tax year to determine if she actually had a filing requirement instead of just assuming "I'm on a fixed income, I don't need to ever file again". More than likely Ms. Lancaster sold an investment that was reported on a 1099-B, which NCDOR received a copy of, and she didn't report the sale because it resulted in a loss/no gain.