Several days ago I got a refund check for $142 in the mail from the IRS. I hadn't been expecting a tax refund. In fact, I paid $166 when I filed my tax return in April. No explanation came with the check, so I held onto it to make sure it was legit. I know that if you get a check from the government and cash it, and then it turns out to be a mistake — even if it's the government's mistake — you're going to owe them penalties and interest. Plus you have to pay back the amount of the check.
Not wanting to be put in that position, I waited. Today I had to go to the bank, and I was tired of waiting, so I deposited the check. It'll make paying the July rent next week a whole lot easier. Plus, I could buy some corn meal while I was at the store. I don't even remember what recipe I was looking at that required corn meal, but I saw it on the shelf and thought, "Hey! I can buy corn meal with my tax refund."
There's a thought I've never had (or expressed) before.
After I got home and the mail came, there was (of course) a notice from the IRS, in one of their forbidding-looking envelopes with the stylized eagle-and-scale logo. Brrrrr. Creepy.
They tell me that I made a mistake in their favor. I didn't give myself enough credit for the number of exemptions I claimed. Or something like that. It all sounds kind of fishy, as if they're trying to confuse me (and we all know how easy that is). They're going to give me a few days to stock up on corn meal and then ask for their money back. I just know it.
The funny thing is, the same thing happened last year. I paid my taxes, complained about it, and then several weeks later got a refund check. I'd forgotten about that until this check arrived. I guess maybe I'll be more careful next year. That's when the real mistakes happen, though - when I think too much.