Wednesday, six years after my assignment to the U.S. Navy Seabees in Port Hueneme, Calif., I received a letter from the California Franchise Tax Board claiming I owed money from 2006 and had 30 days to pay in full before a lien would be filed against my property and involuntary collection would be im posed by contacting my de posit institutions and also by garnishing my wages. The letter had no information as to why money was owed and only provided the means to pay or a customer service number to call.
I have never been a resident of California nor ever filed a tax return with the state. I joined the U.S. Navy in 2004 out of Boston. Military pay is taxed based on the state of residence listed at the Defense Finance Accounting Service, which is the agent that provides pay to all service members. Because I joined as a resident of Massachusetts I have paid and filed Massachusetts state taxes on my military income every year since.
I rented an apartment while stationed in California and spent little time there because of deployments to Japan and Anbar Province, Iraq. After confirming the letter was not a scam, and spending 30 minutes on hold, the Franchise Tax Board told me that I was flagged because I had a 2006 federal tax return that listed a California mailing address. Of course it did, I put it there so I could get my refunds. After explaining my case to the representative on the phone, who luckily was competent, I re ceived a call back two hours later stating that any account records with my name would be deleted and I no longer owed California anything. I was very fortunate.
How is it possible that Cali fornia can peruse federal tax re turns in fiscal desperation and arbitrarily send vague, threatening notices out across the country for payment, six years after the fact? What other states are fishing for money from whoever they can convoke owe them money? I cannot possibly be the only one that this has happened to. Please provide widest dissemination of this to my fellow Massachusetts veterans so that they to not fall prey to the government they serve proudly.
The writer is currently on active duty in Washington, DC.