I just got my family’s state tax refund today.
That, in itself, is not a big deal. For one, it was only $213, which does beat a slap in the face with a dead lobster but isn’t going to make or break us financially. For another, we got our federal refund – over $6000 – three weeks ago, part of the reason the state refund isn’t that big a whoop. No, what made it special is that the state included a thank-you note.
You think I’m kidding. I’m not kidding. This is what was printed on the stub attached to the check:
The State of California extends its deepest gratitude to you and others who endured a delay in receiving your hard-earned tax refunds. A global recession combined with a months-long impasse over how to address a $42 billion budget deficit produced a cash crisis not seen since the Great Depression. With insufficient funds in the Treasury to meet payments coming due, the State was regrettably forced to delay tax refunds and other disbursements to preserve cash for education, debt service and other payments determined by the Constitution, court order and federal law to have first priority on available cash. The recently-enacted budget has reduced the immediate cash flow problem to a manageable level allowing payments to resume. Again, thank you for your patience and understanding during this fiscal emergency.
Now, I know this is just a form-letter type of deal; everyone who sent their return in and is getting a refund will also get this little note. But still, nothing said they had to include a “sorry we’re late” note at all! We’re all familiar with government bureaucracies that really don’t care if you get what you’re looking for, and aren’t afraid to show they don’t care. (Not just government bureaucracies either, I might add, restraining myself from a few choice words about dealing with the garbage company …) After all, state governments pretty much have a monopoly on most state services — if you don’t like how they’re treating you, what are you gonna do, secede?
The State Controller’s Office could’ve taken that line, or could even have said nothing — how many people even noticed that their state refund was coming later than normal? (I didn’t, for one — actually, I believe March 25 for an early-to-mid-February filing is pretty decent, IMNVHO.) But they didn’t. They apologized for the potential inconvenience, explained the reasons behind it and thanked me (and everyone else) for waiting. They didn’t have to do that, but they did. And I, frankly, appreciate it.
Thanks, State of California. Now let’s see if we can take the next step forward and get the 2009-10 budget done on time. You can do it — I have faith in you.