When the state mails out millions of checks, it’s hard to keep track of whether the recipirnts meet qualifications.
The state of Oregon claims that this woman didn’t.
The state says she used Turbo Tax to file a fake income tax return for 2011. She said that she was paid $3 million in wages and deserved a $2.1 million refund.
You might think that this would have triggered an inquiry. After all, this is Oregon. Hardly anyone maks $3 million a year in wages. But, no, the refund check went out.
Well, not quite. No check went out. The $2.1 million was credited to her debit card. She then used the money to buy $150,000 worth of stuff.
Then she listed the card as stolen. That was a mistake. A state official noticed that something seemed a bit peculiar.
The story has hit the media. The state department of revenue expects that there will be inquiries regarding its competence.
The department processes about $7 billion in tax returns each year on computer systems designed in the 1980s. In January, the state’s chief operating officer, Michael Jordan, pulled the plug on a $100 million computer upgrade that the department said would pay for itself by finding tax cheats.
The taxpayer in question made it look easy.
Any government agency this easy to fool has a real public relations problem.