In the rush to issue stimulus checks as quickly as possible, the IRS sent economic impact payments to people who were no longer alive. The Cares Act authorized a $1,200 stimulus check based on 2018 or 2019 tax returns, depending on if and when you filed your last tax return.
If a person died but filed their taxes within the last two years, they have have been issued a stimulus check because the IRS didn’t know they were no longer alive. This created a lot of confusing situations but the IRS asked taxpayers to return checks issued to dead people.
But it seems the IRS has solved a subset of those situations.
The IRS canceled uncashed checks sent in error to dead people. Those checks will no longer need to be returned to the IRS.
If you read Question 13 on the IRS Economic Impact Payment Information Center, the IRS updated the answer on July 10th to explain (emphasis mine):
“Upon enactment of the CARES Act, the IRS worked with unprecedented speed to issue Economic Impact Payments to individuals. The IRS initially implemented the legislation consistent with processes and requirements used with the 2008 stimulus payments, which resulted in EIPs being issued to certain deceased individuals. After further review, it was determined that those who died before receipt of the EIP should not receive the advance payment, also known as EIP. As a result of the review, IRS and the Bureau of Fiscal Services (BFS) took action to prevent future payments to deceased individuals. The cancellation of uncashed checks is part of this process.
BFS has cancelled outstanding Economic Impact Payment (EIP) checks issued to recipients who may not be eligible, including those who may be deceased. Treasury is encouraging financial institutions and other check cashing entities to determine the status of EIP checks by using Treasury check verification tools.”
If the deceased person’s check hasn’t been cashed yet, you don’t need to do anything anymore.
That covers just one scenario, there are still several other cases that require action.
If a payment was made successfully, either by direct deposit or the check was cashed, you will need to send a personal check or money order to an IRS facility. You can review this IRS page on returning the stimulus check and where to mail it.
If one spouse died and another is alive, you would have to return the payment for the deceased spouse by writing a check to the Treasury.
For example, if you were married and your spouse passed away, the IRS would’ve sent you $2,400 if you were under the income limits. $1,200 for you and $1,200 for your spouse. You can keep just $1,200 of the $2,400 stimulus payment.
If you have to send in a check, make sure to make the check payable to the U.S. Treasury and write “2020EIP” along with your taxpayer identification number on the check.
If you received the payment as a debit card, you can send it back to Money Network Cardholder Services at:
5565 Glenridge Connector NE
Mail Stop GH-52
Atlanta, GA 30342