Webster Groves woman pays to get towed car back despite government's admitted fault

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by Mike Colombo / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on May 16, 2012 at 4:56 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 16 at 5:02 PM

WEBSTER GROVES, Missouri (KMOV) -- A Webster Groves woman is out $130 and a sick day at work after getting caught in a tangle of government red tape. But while everyone admits it was a mistake, she still cannot get her money back.

Cynthia Spence said couldn’t believe her eyes when the county sheriff showed up last week with a tow truck.

“And served me with papers, said they had to tow my car for back state taxes,” Spence said. “Which, I didn’t know they could take your car for state taxes.”

While the government can take a person’s vehicle for unpaid taxes, Spence had already paid her back taxes. She got a letter from the state in April showing that her federal refund was used to settle the debt.

”I finally got it taken care of and they’re taking my car anyway,” she said.

Spence took a day off work - using one of her last sick days - and went to the St. Louis County offices in Clayton hoping to straighten things out.

“After about five people I finally got one man who looked at the paperwork and said, ‘yeah well, we didn’t know you had paid those.’”

Her car was eventually released, but not until she paid the $130 towing fee.

She then went back to the county offices.

“They apologized and said, sorry but not their mistake, prosecuting attorney said not their mistake because the state hadn’t notified them,” said Spence. “They said, ‘that’s between you and the tow yard’ because they had released me from everything else.”

St. Louis County Sheriff Jim Buckles said he was just executing an order from the prosecuting attorney.

News 4 has placed calls into the prosecutor’s office and the state department of revenue to ask who’s responsible.

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