The IRS recently issued a $400,000 refund check to a little old lady in Cleveland who was supposed to get only $700 back. Some IRS employee somewhere is getting chewed out and/or fired over this, right? Actually, probably not.
Everything at the IRS is automated. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that this was the result of a computer glitch or identity theft of some kind. When the computers read the returns and the computers write the checks, it’s hard to place the blame on any one individual.
To avoid any potential tax problems, the taxpayer’s moral compass lead her directly to her local IRS office to return the check, and I can only imagine the fiasco that ensued. The sources that reported this story say she was required to confirm her identity before the IRS would accept the check or even talk with her about it. But once she turned it over, I bet it got passed around that office like a hot potato. I’m sure the managers spent the better half of their work day trying to figure out what to do with it. And I’m sure all the other employees wasted the rest of their day making jokes or talking about how they might have spent it.