The U.S. Treasury Department is planning to instruct people whose deceased relatives received coronavirus stimulus payments to return the money to the federal government, according to a department spokesman.
The Treasury is aware that some individuals who have recently died received the $1,200 economic impact payments and plans to issue guidance in the coming days, the spokesman said.
The announcement addresses an issue that some people began noticing earlier this month when the stimulus payments passed by Congress in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak were first deposited into bank accounts: Family members who had died in the past several months were receiving payments.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that Treasury Department was seeking return of the funds.
The federal government regularly updates taxpayer rolls with death certificate information, but the Internal Revenue Service was relying on data that in some cases was from as long ago as 2018 for processing the payments.
The $1,200 stimulus payments for adults earning as much as $75,000 and $500 for their children began hitting bank accounts this month. The IRS is still processing tens of millions more checks to be distributed in the coming weeks.
The IRS has said that people who received more money than they were due because of changes in income wouldn’t have to return the money.
The IRS referred to the Treasury Department a request about whether those who fail to return dead relatives’ payments to the government would be subject to legal action. The Treasury Department didn’t respond.
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Laurie Asséo, John Harney
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