Any $1,200 COVID-19 stimulus checks sent to dead people by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must be returned, the agency says.
Although officials have given conflicting guidance since word emerged that some dead Americans received the money, the IRS has added the following FAQ to its Economic Impact Payment Information Center web page: “Payment made to someone who died before receipt of the payment should be returned to the IRS. A10. … 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 recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act included cash tax rebates for millions of Americans, up to $1,200 per individual, $2,400 per couple and $500 per child. The $2 trillion CARES Act has been part of the federal government’s response as the COVID-19 crisis has crashed the economy.
However, the erroneous payments to dead people may have come about because the IRS largely sent out payments based on people’s tax returns for 2018 and 2019. If a taxpayer died during that timeframe and the person had provided direct deposit information, stimulus money might have automatically gone into the individual’s bank account.
The number of such checks that were sent is unclear at this point. Although some officials originally said families of the dead recipients could keep the payouts, the U.S. Treasury Secretary later clarified that survivors “aren’t supposed to keep them.”