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Port Authority Chief Pushes Back Against Retirees' Lawsuit Over Perks

NEWARK, NJ (AP / CBSNewYork) - The head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says lawsuits filed by retirees seeking to restore free E-ZPass benefits are offensive. And he is pushing back.

Executive Director Patrick Foye says he's asking New York and New Jersey tax authorities to investigate whether the retirees owe taxes, interest and penalties on the free benefits they received until the program was discontinued Jan. 1.

"This case, which involves Port Authority pensioners suing to enjoy a toll-free retirement, is offensive to me. I have asked the New York State Tax and Finance Department and the New Jersey Division of Taxation to determine whether the 400 plaintiffs owe taxes, interest and penalties for this tangible benefit that was never a lifetime promise," Foye said in a statement Thursday. "A daily toll-free Port Authority pensioner would have enjoyed a $2,000 tax-free benefit, while the commuter in the next lane would have paid his or her tolls with $2,000 after-tax dollars. I leave the question of taxes, interest and penalties owed up to the revenue folks in Albany and Trenton. I assume that lawyers for the retiree plaintiffs informed them of their tax risks."

Two former Port Authority police officers have sued to restore the free EZ-Pass and parking privileges they say were promised or contractually owed.

One of them, Thomas Westfield, is suing on behalf of himself and is also seeking class-action status on behalf of over 400 fellow Port Authority retirees.

He called Foye's comments ludicrous and retaliatory and says the retirees won't back down.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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