Since Thora’s Good News this week included the especially good news that when she and her husband undercalculated their tax return by $2000, the IRS fixed it for them and gave them the money, I thought I’d tell a story from a few years ago that casts Dean and I in a good light. (I try not to tell the other kind of story here.)
Back when Dean was in grad school and we were living the poor-student life in Berkeley, our tax return came back $700 short. Dean was sure he’d gotten the amount right and the IRS was wrong, and he spent a whole lot of time on the phone with someone at the IRS who said they weren’t sure who was right, and that they’d have to get approval from a supervisor before they could issue us a reimbursement. The supervisor wasn’t available and the call ended, and we didn’t hear back, so Dean called again. This time he spoke to someone else, who agreed that we were right (there was actually a glitch in the IRS’s computer program that calculated returns,) and said the problem would be fixed. A few weeks passed, and we got our $700 check in the mail. Then another $700 check came in the mail. Because of the way things had happened, with the IRS having had to override their computer system to issue the reimbursement, and with neither of the people Dean had spoken with having had contact with each other, Dean knew that we could cash both checks and no one but us would never know. And, for all the time he’d had to spend on the phone correcting the IRS’s error, we felt like we did deserve a bonus.
But, we both knew we’d rather have the peace of conscience, so we sent the second check back —
even though we knew it would someday disqualify us for a post in Obama’s cabinet.