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US stimulus check coronavirus for deceased person: what to do and how to return it to IRS

Stimulus checks have been sent to deceased people as the IRS didn't have time to cross-reference databases given the importance of the coronavirus financial impact.

May 3, 2020 - New York, NY USA: Fearless Girl, the bronze sculpture by Kristen Visbal standing at The New York Stock exchange wears a facemask in an almost empty Wall Street during the Covid-19 pandemic. (Catherine Nance/Contacto)
 22/04/2020 ONLY FOR
Catherine Nance

US Stimulus checks deliver to deceased relatives need to be returned to the government, says Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. As the US tries to help families during the coronavirus pandemic in which millions of people have been left unemployed, checks have been sent to deceased people in the process.

The US has sent 90 million non-taxable checks to US families but people who filled taxes in 2018 and 2019 but have since passed away were still on the IRS' registry and received money. "Heirs should be returning that money,” Mnuchin said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. He also sent somewhat of a warning by saying the government were able to track checks sent to deceased people.

Stimulus checks: Cross-referencing databases would have taken weeks

"You’re not supposed to keep that payment,” Mnuchin told the Wall Street Journal. “We’re checking the databases, but there could be a scenario where we missed something, and yes, the heirs should be returning that money.”

"The Social Security administration has a master file of all deaths in the United States, but if the IRS had taken the time to cross-reference that date, it would have delayed checks for everyone for weeks," Nicole Kaeding, vice president of policy promotion at the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, told TODAY.

A tax expert in Florida, Adam Markowitz, told Marketwatch that two of his clients received checks for deceased relatives. "And yes, the check did clear,” he said.

The US government is already considering sending out a second round of checks in May as they try to work out the logistics of such a scenario. But given the hasty nature of how the checks were arranged, there seems to have been some problems. Millions of Americans are still waiting for checks and there was problems with government websites going down due to overcrowded servers.