comScore Mistaken Tax Refund Returned | The Mary Sue

Cleveland Waitress Gets Sent $400k By Accident, Returns It to the IRS

A Lesson in Humility

I like to think I get a healthy refund from the IRS (one of the few financial benefits of exiting college more than four figures in debt), and am pretty excited about receiving it every year, but Virginia Hopkins got quite a bit more than she expected.

The check she picked up on Tuesday was made out for the sum of $434,712.

Hopkins has been waitressing at Johnny’s Downtown Restaurant in Cleveland for nineteen years, since it opened, and was expecting less than $800 back after filing her return.

“I think I would have to work most of my life to earn that much money,” she told a reporter. “Even with undeclared tips,” she added with a laugh.

Hopkins knew exactly what to do with the money when she saw it: return it immediately. Of course, the only question was how. And, of course, she had work the next day. Both her coworkers and diners at Johnny’s offered a lot of suggestions for what to do with the money, but eventually the one that deemed best was to make a visit to Cleveland’s IRS office.

“Would you believe I had to give them a photo id to prove it was me before I could give it back?” Hopkins said. “Otherwise they wouldn’t even talk to me.”

After the IRS employes reassured themselves that this wasn’t part of a forgery or scam, she says they were very polite, took the check, and promised to investigate the error, though because it’s the IRS and, you know, financial privacy of individuals, they would not be revealing the results of the investigation. According to Yahoo!,

Today is Virginia’s day off. She says she’s spending it “readjusting.”

“It’s not easy being poor after you’ve been rich,” she jokes. But she did get something out of the experience.

Apparently the small celebrity that has come from a story of funny coincidence and honest behavior may be leading to better tips, declarable and not.

I can only imagine what would have happened if she’d e-filed and set up direct deposit.

(via Yahoo!)

Have a tip we should know? tips@themarysue.com

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Susana Polo thought she'd get her Creative Writing degree from Oberlin, work a crap job, and fake it until she made it into comics. Instead she stumbled into a great job: founding and running this very website (she's Editor at Large now, very fancy). She's spoken at events like Geek Girl Con, New York Comic Con, and Comic Book City Con, wants to get a Batwoman tattoo and write a graphic novel, and one of her canine teeth is in backwards.