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The Million-Dollar Blip

, , , , | Working | December 6, 2021

This story is a family legend. My grandpa was a big stand-up guy; honesty was the best policy, and if you don’t like the truth, don’t ask him anything that you don’t want answered.

Every year, he did his taxes on time, got his tax return, and went about his day. One year, the IRS decided that computers were the future and began upgrading to electronic tax systems. Keep in mind that this happened somewhere in the early 1960s. Through the headaches of new technology, a blip occurred.

A big blip.


My grandfather stared at this one-million-dollar tax return check and then tried calling the IRS to report it.

I don’t know the details of the conversation, but the gist of the conversation was:

Grandpa: “I would like to report an error on my tax return. I believe a decimal has to have been misplaced somewhere, or your systems have made a mistake.”

IRS: “We are the IRS. We don’t make mistakes!”

Grandpa: “Well, you cut me a million-dollar check. I promise you that I did not make enough money this year to deserve that size tax return.”

IRS: “We do not make mistakes. If the system says your tax return is a million dollars, then your tax return is a million dollars.”

Grandpa: “You’re an idiot.” *Click*

Grandpa tucked that million dollars in a savings account and didn’t touch it all year, save to put a bit in once a month.

A year later, panic time! Or, well… panic at the IRS, anyway. Practically eating their words, hat in hand, with apologies to a smirking Grandpa, they admitted that they might have indeed made a mistake the previous year and needed the money back.

Perfectly calm, Grandpa wrote them that million-dollar check and told them, “I told that boy he was an idiot.”

A year’s worth of interest remained in Grandpa’s account from that million dollars. That, plus his eventual retirement, helped him build a house and raise his family before he passed away in the early 2000s. We wish we could get that kind of blip again because the interest nowadays would be a heck of a lot higher.