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I can’t remember the last time I heard a story more alarming and simultaneously hilarious. It’s a dream scenario: file your taxes, sift through your mail a week later and discover a check from the D.C. government refunding everything you paid over the year.
A friend of mine recently filed his tax forms, indicating that he owed the District government $9,831 in income taxes for the last year. He was a few dollars short, and was planning on sending in a check this week. But, before he even got a chance, he received a $9,831 tax refund. “I looked back over my tax forms and everything was fine,” says the man, a District lawyer named Michael, who didn’t want to use his full name to keep his finances private. When he called the Office of Tax and Revenue, even the people on the other end of the line thought the story was a chuckler. “I was laughing with the lady on the phone. Whoever had input my information for my tax form had put it in wrong. She was trying to explain, they put in a zero [as my income], instead of the income I have. And therefore, the system itself just thought, oh, he paid almost $10,000 in taxes on no income.“
The dream ends there. He’s sending the check back. “If the numbers were off, I really would be questioning as to what happened. But, I really think they just…” He pauses. “Well, you know, who knows?”