The Internal Revenue Service confirmed Wednesday that dead people do not qualify for coronavirus stimulus payments — despite the fact that there are reports of deceased individuals receiving the funds or checks.
The IRS is now asking survivors of deceased people who received payment to return the funds, issuing instructions on how to do so. That’s likely to include people whose loved ones recently died of COVID-19.
“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,” the brief notice on the agency’s website reads.
This new information — which is merely provided in response to a frequently asked question on the agency’s “Economic Impact Payment Information Center” page — comes amid general confusion over the stimulus payments and concerns from Americans who still haven’t received theirs.
In a rushed effort to get stimulus money out as quickly as possible, many people who filed taxes in the past two years and subsequently died got money, according to CNN.
Politico reports that the IRS had to cross-reference its list of the deceased with death records maintained by the Social Security Administration. More than 72,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, many at around the same time the IRS was scrambling to send out millions of checks.
And although the agency did update its website with new information on what to do if you’re the heir of a dead person who received a payment, it does not state the consequences of not returning the money.