Stimulus Payments Sent to the Dead Should be Returned, Treasury Dept. Says

Economic Stimulus Package Tax Rebate Checks Printed

If you have a dead relative who received a coronavirus stimulus check, we're sorry to say that the government won't allow you to keep that money.

On Wednesday, the Treasury Department said people who received a stimulus check on behalf of someone who died will need to return the money immediately. The Internal Revenue Service also updated its website on Wednesday to reflect the new policy.

"A Payment made to someone who died before receipt of the Payment should be returned to the IRS by following the instructions in the Q&A about repayments," the Treasury Department wrote. "Return the entire Payment unless the Payment was made to joint filers and one spouse had not died before receipt of the Payment, in which case, you only need to return the portion of the Payment made on account of the decedent. This amount will be $1,200 unless adjusted gross income exceeded $150,000."

The entire payment will need to be returned, unless the money went to a couple who filed a joint tax return and one of the spouses was alive when the money was received, the department said. The living spouse will be required to return only the portion of the payment made to the account on behalf of the deceased - which is $1,200, unless the adjusted gross income of the couple exceeded $150,000, the IRS states.

The Treasury Department says stimulus checks sent to deceased people and those who are incarcerated, were inadvertent.

People who received paper checks are being told to write "VOID" in the endorsement section on the check and mail them back to the IRS. If the checks have already been cashed, or they were direct deposited into your account, the IRS has posted instructions on how to return the Payments on their website here. There was no indication on what legal consequences, if any, might be imposed for failing to return the check.

The amount sent to individuals and couples were mostly based on the filers' 2018 or 2019 tax return. Those people who received Social Security payments did not have to file a return to receive a payment.

According to the IRS, over the last thirty days, more than 130 million stimulus checks have been sent out, totaling more than $207 billion.

Photo: Getty Images

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