How did you spend your last paycheck

Paycheck from an old employer

The same thing happened to me at the end of 2010. I contacted the bored-sounding HR department of the big company - after scrolling through the phone menu and receiving more than one "all of our employees are busy, please call back later" - and told them I had that extra money. The guy in India told me my petition would be investigated and a ticket would be opened. I haven't heard anything for a couple of weeks. I followed with the payroll. They said my petition investigation showed that I was indeed paid extra and they would send me a letter demanding the overpayment.

I did not receive a letter and a month later (January 2011) I received a W-2 with the paycheck on it. I decided I'd put enough time and effort on it, and if they wanted it back, the ball was in their place. I changed my bank account numbers to prevent them from automatically charging my account and spent the money as if it was mine.

I haven't heard from it since.

From what I could tell, after having tried in good faith to return it, I made it clear.

And for what it's worth, it's not that you can just "give it back". Amongst other things:

  • Withholdings have been sent to the IRS on your behalf and there is no way to get them back
  • Money has been deposited into your 401 (k) and you cannot touch it until you are 59.5 years old.
  • The amount they gave you is on your W-2, which means you will have to pay tax on it.
  • There may have been other withholdings for insurance or other employee-paid items. You have no way of getting that back.

I certainly didn't want to just send the company a check and hope for the best.


That's good to know. I didn't take the tax implications into account.