Coronavirus

Treasury Chief Mnuchin: Stimulus Checks Not For the Dead

Problems Abound With Stimulus Debit Cards

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says $1,200 stimulus checks from the government were sent in error, and relatives and family members should return the money.

Mnuchin told The Wall Street Journal that the surviving relatives of the deceased people receiving the checks “aren’t supposed to keep” those payments, and that the government could have missed something in the database. He was adamant that the money is given back in those cases.

People who died in 2018 or 2019 may have received the stimulus checks because the system is based on people’s tax returns from the most recent of either of those years, depositing the funds into their accounts on file with the IRS. It's unclear exactly how many of those checks were sent, and the IRS could take any number of actions to try and get back any payments it believed were made in error.

The checks were part of the sweeping CARES Act that was passed in March, distributing $1,200 per individual, $2,400 per couple and $500 per child to help offset the effects of the coronavirus.

Mnuchin didn’t say what would happen for people who died or will die in 2020, who could still be eligible for the payments as they had tax obligations this year.

For those looking to return checks sent to their deceased relatives, it may prove to be easy with physical envelopes, as they simply have to check a box and return the envelope. But it might not be so easy for the digital deposits.

The other challenging case for the stimulus checks involves people who have had income increases to the point where they make more than $75,000 a year and thus would not be eligible for the same amount of money under the rules of the program. The IRS is not likely to take back that money, though.

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