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The IRS sent stimulus checks to dead people. Now it wants that money back

The Internal Service Revenue (IRS) is asking for any stimulus checks sent to a deceased person to be returned. 

The IRS updated its stimulus check guidelines on Wednesday to add details on what to do with stimulus checks sent to someone who has died. Simply put, people are instructed to send the money back.

“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 update says. 

When stimulus checks were first distributed on April 16, some people said the IRS had accidentally sent money to their dead relatives. The error was due to the IRS using tax filings from previous years to determine where to send the checks.

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If you need to return a deceased person’s payment to the IRS, the IRS has laid out two methods to do so. 

For paper checks

If the stimulus arrived as a paper check and has not yet been cashed, the IRS is asking people to write “Void” in the endorsement section on the back of the check, then mail the check to the appropriate IRS mailing address with a note stating the reason for the check’s return. 

For direct deposits/cashed checks 

To return stimulus money that came in the form of direct deposit, or if you already cashed a paper check, the IRS is asking people to submit a personal check or money order made out to the appropriate IRS mailing address. 

Be sure to include the deceased taxpayer’s Social Security number or any other identification number, as well as an explanation for returning the check. 

The IRS doesn’t give any specific deadline for how quickly you must return checks sent to the deceased. Digital Trends reached out to the IRS to find out a timeline and we will update this story when we hear back. 

Allison Matyus
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Allison Matyus is a general news reporter at Digital Trends. She covers any and all tech news, including issues around social…
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