My Deceased Family Member Received a COVID-19 Stimulus Check, Now What?

Ruder Ware

We have been hearing a lot of public rhetoric about deceased individuals receiving Covid-19 stimulus checks as a result of the CARES Act.  It is far more common than you may think as we have received several calls from our clients this week that their deceased family member has received a stimulus check.  The stimulus checks were issued to individuals that met certain income requirements and who had filed returns in 2018 and 2019.  Any individual who died after the filing of such return was not automatically removed from the list as the IRS did not have the time to cross check its list used for mailing stimulus checks against the Social Security Administration’s list of deaths occurring during the time period of 2018-2020.

There are some family members that have chosen to cash the stimulus checks that were mailed to deceased family members.  Those individuals are of the opinion that there is nothing in the CARES Act that requires them to return the checks.  However, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said last week that stimulus checks that were sent to deceased individuals must be returned.

So, how do you return a check your deceased relative friend received?  So far, it’s not clear how taxpayers should return the money or what they should do with the check.  Until there is further guidance from the federal government, we are recommending that you retain proof that you returned the check or hang on to the check without cashing it and wait for guidance from the federal government.  Our team at Ruder Ware will update you as soon as further guidance is received.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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