Stimulus checks sent to dead people must be returned, IRS says

The feds provide clarity on bad stimulus checks weeks after mistakenly sending them to widows and widowers

The Internal Revenue Service is now asking people to return Economic Impact payments that were sent to deceased people.

Paper check from the United States Treasury. (Photo: Adobe Stock)

In a change of course by the federal government, the Internal Revenue Service is now asking people to return Economic Impact payments that were sent to deceased people.

In new guidance released to the IRS website on Wednesday, the agency is advising people on how to send the money back.

READ MORE: IRS sent stimulus checks to dead people, while the living wait

The agency has now stated explicitly, “A payment made to someone who died before receipt of the payment should be returned to the IRS.”

It was previously unclear whether or not family members could keep the money that had been sent to their deceased loved ones. The payments were sent out to people who filed 2018 and 2019 tax returns. In a rush to expedite the payments, the IRS didn’t cross-check whether payees were alive or dead.

The agency also stated on Wednesday that any other person who may be deemed, “ineligible,” including those who are incarcerated must also return the payments.

Government Check

Government Check (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The new guidance states that in addition to incarcerated people, those who are in a mental health facility, person who are determined to be “sexually dangerous,” anyone who is fleeing prosecution or prison time, or a person in violation of probation or parole now all have to return the payments.

The new guidance could have a direct impact on Black Americans.

Couples who may have gotten $2,400 in payments, but one spouse is deceased, the living party has to return half.

READ MORE: Stimulus checks may be delayed because Trump wants his name on them

The Economic Impact Payments were authorized by Congress as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act that was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on March 27. The $2 trillion economic relief package was designed to provide fast and direct economic assistance for American workers, families, and small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a report by The Washington Post, there are still millions of people waiting for a stimulus check. Further, those who feel they may not have gotten all the money that they are due will have to wait until 2021 to resolve that issue.