$1 State income tax refund from CA - Why?

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Topic Author
JustSomeGuy155
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Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2015 10:35 pm

$1 State income tax refund from CA - Why?

Post by JustSomeGuy155 » Sat May 05, 2018 9:39 pm

Today I received a check for $1.00 from the state of California controller -- I'm not sure why! Do you have an idea?

The check they sent me is marked "Tax Refund" and has an attachment that says "You can help California reduce costs in the future by e-filing your taxes and having your refund sent via direct deposit to your bank account. If you have any questions regarding e-file, you can log onto the Franchise Tax Board website at www.ftb.ca.gov"

I submitted my tax return to CA about a month ago by mail. I was a peeved with Turbotax since I ran into a lot of bugs this year, and they were asking something like $40 to e-file for CA so I decided to mail in my return with a check to spite them :D . The check was for a few thousand dollars I owed, and I double checked that the tax owed on my return matched what I wrote on the check and what was deducted from my account.

I moved from CA to NY at the beginning of 2017, but my return has a relatively complicated apportionment of CA wages from the # of days I was living/working in the state + stock that I was granted from my company when I lived in CA but unvested until I moved to NY + a bonus I received for work in 2016. There's no way the state could have re-calculated this themselves.

So my guess is they really want me to e-file in the future and sending a check for $1 is the only process the FTB has in place to communicate...

Anyone have a better guess?
Last edited by JustSomeGuy155 on Sat May 05, 2018 10:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

123
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Re: $1 State income tax refund from CA - Why?

Post by 123 » Sat May 05, 2018 9:52 pm

But the $1 check is not the end of it. If you itemized deductions for 2017 that $1 refund counts as income on your return for 2018, you should receive a 1099 from the California Franchise Tax Board in early 2019.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

Topic Author
JustSomeGuy155
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Re: $1 State income tax refund from CA - Why?

Post by JustSomeGuy155 » Sat May 05, 2018 9:59 pm

123 wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 9:52 pm
But the $1 check is not the end of it. If you itemized deductions for 2017 that $1 refund counts as income on your return for 2018, you should receive a 1099 from the California Franchise Tax Board in early 2019.
:shock: Perhaps I'll mail them my return again in 2019 to spite them and the cycle will continue...

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JoMoney
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Re: $1 State income tax refund from CA - Why?

Post by JoMoney » Sat May 05, 2018 11:05 pm

There's another similar thread viewtopic.php?f=2&t=248750, this is what I posted over there:

I don't know, I would expect you would have got a letter with explanation either prior to the check or with it...
But perhaps, unfortunately this:
https://www.ftb.ca.gov/current/RefundError.shtml

Beware of the Unexpected Tax Refund Windfall & Other Pitfalls:
https://www.taxproblemattorneyblog.com/ ... falls.html
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ReadyOrNot
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Re: $1 State income tax refund from CA - Why?

Post by ReadyOrNot » Sun May 06, 2018 2:51 pm

I once got a $1 check (or warrant) that I figured was from rounding at a different point in the process. ( I did my calculations manually, and favored the state if there was any question.) It was a minor nuisance for me and obviously a waste for the state.

mouses
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Re: $1 State income tax refund from CA - Why?

Post by mouses » Sun May 06, 2018 3:24 pm

ReadyOrNot wrote:
Sun May 06, 2018 2:51 pm
I once got a $1 check (or warrant) that I figured was from rounding at a different point in the process. ( I did my calculations manually, and favored the state if there was any question.) It was a minor nuisance for me and obviously a waste for the state.
I never round. I have never gotten an unexpected check that looked like a rounding vs whole dollar amount, so I don't think they do that. Rounding or not is a taxpayer choice anyway. There is no place where rounding is a question; it is defined as to what to do if there's a .5

Good Listener
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Re: $1 State income tax refund from CA - Why?

Post by Good Listener » Sun May 06, 2018 4:28 pm

I would not cash it.

ReadyOrNot
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Re: $1 State income tax refund from CA - Why?

Post by ReadyOrNot » Mon May 07, 2018 3:37 pm

Suppose you can't use the tax table and must calculate your tax with a formula which is not an even number of dollars. Do you round that and the amount of payments you made over the year (also not an even number of dollars), and find the difference between the two rounded amounts? Or do you calculate the difference without rounding and then round the final answer to get the amount you owe in whole dollars? Or when they say you can use at least 3 decimals to calculate a pro-rated amount, but only 3 decimals aren't enough to get to the nearest whole dollar, how precise should you be? There may be a single correct answer, but it may not be obvious, and it is easy to have a discrepancy.

new2bogle
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Re: $1 State income tax refund from CA - Why?

Post by new2bogle » Mon May 07, 2018 3:41 pm

Good Listener wrote:
Sun May 06, 2018 4:28 pm
I would not cash it.
I would follow this advice. Can you confirm it is actually from the State of CA and not some weird phishing trick?

Topic Author
JustSomeGuy155
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Re: $1 State income tax refund from CA - Why?

Post by JustSomeGuy155 » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:35 pm

Thanks all for the replies (especially JoMoney for the ftb link) and sorry for the late follow up.

I ended up sending the check back to the state of California with a letter telling them it was an error. Haven't heard back from them so far and I've been doing just fine $1 poorer.

Thanks again!

gpshead
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Re: $1 State income tax refund from CA - Why?

Post by gpshead » Fri Apr 12, 2019 10:26 pm

This just happened to me today, a mystery $1.00 refund check for 2018, weeks after e-filing with a large payment sent _to_ the state. Seems they haven't fixed their system this year either.

ccieemeritus
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Re: $1 State income tax refund from CA - Why?

Post by ccieemeritus » Sat Apr 13, 2019 9:57 pm

I also got a $1 check from CA today after owning money from TurboTax. Thanks for that link.

inbox788
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Re: $1 State income tax refund from CA - Why?

Post by inbox788 » Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:19 am

JustSomeGuy155 wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:35 pm
Thanks all for the replies (especially JoMoney for the ftb link) and sorry for the late follow up.

I ended up sending the check back to the state of California with a letter telling them it was an error. Haven't heard back from them so far and I've been doing just fine $1 poorer.

Thanks again!
You wasted a $0.55 stamp and an envelope over a $1 trivial issue? Not to mention all the wasted electrons in this thread, storing this dribble for eternity ( https://web.archive.org/web/20010908123 ... ds.org:80/ ), and countless/priceless time we all could be doing some else? Not that replying to this is any better...wait, my phone is ringing, I wonder who it could be...

FWIW, I had a $0.01 check written out to me from a brokerage over a decade ago that I kept for laughs for a while before throwing it away. It made it's way to the State Unclaimed Property database, and I just checked and it's still there. There's also another under $1 item I don't recall that's also there. I guess I could go through the hoops to claim them one day when I'm very bored. Maybe your $1 will make it to some unclaimed property database someday and waste away with all the other rounding errors.

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