100 pennies

I have never received a $1.00 check from anyone before, so it was a historic moment when I received one this year.  It was a refund check from none other than the U.S. Treasury Department.  Allow me to explain.

Every individual who works in the United States must pay income tax.  I filed my income tax returns every year, even as a graduate student; but because my income was low during those struggling student years, I received earned income credits from the government.  When I was gainfully employed, I stopped receiving earned income credits and began to pay taxes to the government.

For the past several years I’ve been paying government taxes for my consulting work, since my clients don’t withhold the tax. I came to dread the annual tax deadline of April 15, when I was hit with thousands of dollars owed in back taxes.  Understanding my predicament, my accountant recommended that I pay several thousand dollars to the IRS quarterly to avoid owing such a large sum of money on April 15.

I followed his advice and it worked; on April 15 I only had to pay a few hundred dollars in back taxes.  I must have overpaid the IRS this year, so I received a refund of exactly $1.00.  I plan to frame the check as a sign of the IRS’s honesty. An important branch of the U.S. Treasury Department, it invokes fear in so many U.S. citizens. Perhaps the IRS is not the big bad wolf everyone makes them it to be, after all.