More Southern Connecticut State University alumni are questioning why portions of their state tax refund are being withheld for alleged debts going back decades.
Last week, News 8 Investigates reported on a Guilford woman who had $43.88 cents withheld from her refund for an alleged 1987 dorm damage charge when she was a student at SCSU.
Cheryl DiPalo says when she contacted the school to find out more about her delinequent bill, she was told the school has no documentation and any burden of proof is on her.
Well, more than a dozen former SCSU students contacted News 8 Investigates to report a similar story.
One of them is Kendra Lamotte from East Haven.
Lamotte had $10 withheld from her state tax refund for a parking ticket from 1996.
When Lamotte called the school, she was told it didn’t have the documentation but it would be up to her to prove the charge was incorrect.
Lamotte says she did get the ticket on her last day, but paid it years later.
“In the early 2000’s, I needed a copy of my transcripts and when I called to get them, they made me come down in person and pay the fine in cash in order to get my transcripts,” said Lamotte. “I asked ‘do you have a record of me getting my transcripts because your policy is you won’t release them with any outstanding debts?’ He informed me that they had no way to access that information because the computer system has been changed over.”
Lamotte says the school called her and told her the burden of proof was on her.
Lamotte still has the transcripts dated from 2003. When News 8 Investigator asked if there could be a second ticket, she said there was only one.
Southern Connecticut State University told News 8 investigates last week that there was a recent policy change in November that allows the school to collect debts through tax intervention for less than fifty dollars. The previous minimum threshold was over $50. The university tells us this week, that it can comment on individual accounts “…but we are required to have records to justify requests to the state department of revenue services before a person’s tax refund can be reduced. Nevertheless, mistakes can be made. If someone believes they have been charged in error, or that they have already paid the debt, we are always happy to talk with them informally. and they always have the option to appeal their case to the Commissioner of the State Department of Administrative Services.”
Kendra says it’s not the amount of money taken that upsets her.
“I know, it’s only ten dollars,” said Lamotte. “It’s not the money. It’s the principle.”
If you have a story to tell News 8 Investigates, email George.Colli@WTNH.com.