Metro woman hit with a different kind of sticker shock while buying a new car

Problem Solvers

GRANDVIEW, Mo. — Christy Williams likes nice cars. In fact, she was registering her latest sweet drive – a white Cadillac Luxury Coupe – when she made a shocking discovery that had her calling FOX4 Problem Solvers for help.

The clerk at the DMV in Grandview told Williams she couldn’t register her new car until she paid an outstanding bill of $5,283 for taxes on another car – a Chrysler 300.

Williams was shocked. She hadn’t owned that Chrysler in 20 years and this was the first time she’d ever heard she owed taxes on it (plus 20 years’ worth of interest and penalties). She thought the county was mistaken.

“I didn’t pay personal property taxes on the car because it was a lease,” Williams said. “To my understanding, (Chrysler) was going to pay personal property taxes on the car.”

But Williams no longer had any paperwork to support her claim that the car was a lease, or that Chrysler had agreed to pay the taxes.

“In 20 years, I went through two divorces, a flood in the house where all my paperwork was,” Williams said. “I wouldn’t have had that stuff.”

To make matters worse, the Chrysler dealership where she got the car is no longer in business. Williams even tried contacting TD Bank, which acquired Chrysler Financial, hoping it might still have the documents, but was told the account was so old it was closed out, and the only information the bank could provide was the car’s vehicle identification number.

She said she explained everything to Jackson County, but it wouldn’t budge on its demand for back taxes, interest and penalties for the last 20 years.  

That’s when Williams called Problem Solvers.

Most people don’t hold onto tax documents for 20 years, which is why it’s against the law in most states for a business or government agency to sue someone for a bad debt that many years old.

Problem Solvers called the county explaining Williams’ predicament and the problem anyone would have proving their innocence on a debt that old.

Jackson County promised to look into the matter. And it did. In fact, Jackson County even researched state records, which (unfortunately for Williams) showed the car had been titled to her – it was never titled as a leased vehicle.

Despite that, Jackson County officials agreed that the county should have notified Williams years earlier that she owed back taxes. Since that hadn’t been done, the county waived all interest and penalties – lowering the bill by nearly $4,000.

Williams has now paid that bill.

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