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I Received a Stimulus Check for a Deceased Loved One: Do I Have to Return it?

I Received a Stimulus Check for a Deceased Loved One: Do I Have to Return it?

In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the government passed a $2 trillion stimulus package to provide relief to the country as we face a significant economic crisis. This is being seen in a form of one time payments to individuals across the country in an amount based on their most recent tax returns. However, as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is working to get the checks out as soon as possible, some mistakes have been made in the process. One of which includes stimulus checks sent to deceased individuals. 

Stimulus checks are being distributed to people based on their 2018 or 2019 tax return. In the event that a couple filed jointly and one spouse passed away since then, it is possible that the IRS is not aware of this yet. This poses the question for many: do I have to give the money back? 

While it was previously unclear what should be done with this money, the IRS has since released new guidance on how these matters should be handled. Individuals who receive a stimulus check for a deceased individual are required to return the payment in full, unless the deceased was married and filed tax returns jointly with a spouse who is still alive. In these cases, only the portion of the payment that belongs to the deceased individual needs to be returned. For example, if the couple receives a check of $2400, they must send back $1200. The check can be mailed back to the Treasury Department or, if it was cashed and deposited into a bank account, the IRS asks for it to be sent in a personal check or money order.

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