Some things are too good to be true. Imagine receiving a letter in the mail saying you will receive an income tax refund of $200,000,000. Yes, $200 million.

Well, 9,701 taxpayers in the Buckeye State got such letters. As first reported in the Sandusky Register, taxpayers were told that that because their refunds had been split into a paper check and direct deposit, just a paper check would be issued…for $200 million.

The letters were in error, of course, and according to the Ohio Department of Taxation the problem has been fixed. But it does bring up an interesting issue that a few of my clients have faced: What do you do if you receive a refund you are not entitled to? Let’s say that you actually receive a check from the Ohio Department of Taxation for $200 million.

If you receive a tax refund you are not entitled to, the government can and will ask for that money back…plus interest. If you get such a check, don’t cash it — it’s not your money. Contact the tax agency and let them know of the problem. They’ll likely direct you to mail the check back to the agency.

In any case, Ohio, which is facing an $8 billion budget deficit, won’t be sending out $200 million refunds. The letters themselves and the resultant publicity have added a minor amount of money to their deficit (and some humor to tax season).