Have you received your stimulus check yet? As one of the highlights of recently passed CARES Act, taxpayers are entitled to direct cash payments of up to $2400 for married couples. Unfortunately, the rollout for this process has been anything but smooth.
Between unusual error messages and checks being sent to the wrong bank account, there are still kinks in the IRS’s payment system that the government must work out. Tap or click here to see what you need to do if your stimulus goes to the wrong bank account.
But, do you know who seemed to receive their stimulus checks without any problem? Dead people across the U.S.! As it turns out, if a person died between 2018 and now, the government still may have sent them a check. And now, the government wants the money back! If you have a dead relative who got paid, here’s what you must do.
Dead men tell no tales (and cash no checks)
The IRS is demanding potentially thousands of stimulus payments be returned that were accidentally sent out to dead citizens, nonresident aliens and incarcerated people. These payments were based on tax returns filed in 2018 or 2019, and on the off chance someone died or went to jail, the IRS doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo.
There isn’t an exact confirmed number of how many dead people received stimulus payments, but nonetheless, a significant amount of social media activity has been buzzing around the issue.
For many dead, incarcerated, or nonresident people, the payments seemed to reflect a joint filing status for tax years 2018 or 2019. This means surviving spouses could have received the full amount of $2,400 despite their qualifying partner being unable to speak or breathe.
If you received an extra payment thanks to a dead, nonresident, or incarcerated family member, don’t even think about hanging on to the extra windfall. There are detailed instructions posted on the IRS’s website advising how to return the accidental payments, and according to the agency, this return should be done “immediately.”
Will I get in trouble if I keep the money? How do I send it back?
Although the newly released guidelines say the money should be “returned immediately,” there’s no official statement as to what will happen if you decide to hang on to the funds. But considering the fact that we’re talking about the IRS here, we wouldn’t take any chances — unless you like talking to auditors.
The way you’ll return your payment will be based on how the IRS sent it to you. For direct deposits, you’ll need to make out a check to “U.S. Treasury” and write 2020EIP, and the taxpayer identification number (SSN or individual taxpayer identification number) of the recipient of the check. You will also need to write the reason for returning it in the memo.
If you received a paper check, just write VOID in the endorsement section on the back of the check. You’ll also want to include a note when you mail the check out explaining why you’re returning it. Do not staple, bend, or paper clip the check.
Once your check is prepared, you’ll need to mail it off to a specific address. This will depend on the state you live in, and the IRS has posted all of the addresses on the agency’s payment FAQ page. Just scroll down to the bottom and expand Q41 to see the complete list.
This should give you peace of mind, and spare you from having to deal with any trouble from the IRS down the road.
I still haven’t received my payment! What gives?
There are still millions of Americans that are waiting on their payments and have not received them. During the initial waves of the economic stimulus, most people that got paid received their funds via direct deposit. Unfortunately, those without up-to-date bank information with the IRS ended up missing out.
Fortunately, the IRS continues to add more names each week to the payment tracker, and you might see your name show up now even if it wasn’t available a few weeks ago. Tap or click here to track your stimulus payment.
If you’re still getting a Payment Status Not Available message, you may need to file taxes for 2019 if you have not done so yet. This will give you a chance to provide your current address and bank account info if you’re owed a refund, which will ensure the IRS has the info it needs to send your payment.
Keep in mind: It still takes quite a bit of time for the IRS to process returns, so don’t expect the information to populate immediately. Wait a few more weeks and check back with the payment tracker after filing.
Of course, even if you can’t provide bank information, the IRS is still mailing checks out to taxpayers around the country. These payments are sent out on a weekly basis, and you may only have to wait a few more weeks for that check to travel from DC to your doorstep.
Odds are, if you qualify, you’ll get paid. But as with anything government-related, the technology and methods they use to help us tend to be woefully slow and outdated. Tap or click here to see why unemployment systems in certain states are run on Cold War-era computers.