You know that feeling you get when someone you think would never do a kind thing for you ever suddenly and out of the blue does something nice? Like Darth Vader opening the door for Han Solo just to be polite? Or maybe Kim Jong-Il sending you a birthday present? You just know that there is some ulterior motive for the politeness and you swear you can feel the point of the knife getting ready to enter your back.
That's the feeling I got yesterday when the IRS sent me a letter. After 6 months of back and forth correspondence trying to get a refund for a penalty I paid on a 401k disbursement in 2005 that Congress changed the law on, I finally got the letter I was waiting for that said, OK, we owe you some money and here it is. It only took 5 letters and 3 phone calls (including the one where I had to explain the tax code to the supposed IRS 'expert'), but the check finally did come in the mail.
Now imagine my shock when they paid me not the $880 I filed for, but $1067 instead. The reason? Interest. That's right, without having to ask for it, the IRS paid me interest on the amount of refund they owed me.
That kind of good fortune can't stand alone by itself. I'm sure there has to be some corresponding stroke of bad luck to average things out. Now I just have to wait for it. Maybe I should look at my football picks again, just to be sure.