As the executor of my stepfather's estate I'm used to getting a lot of mail with his name on it. But what was surprising was reaching into my mailbox last week and pulling out a check for $1,200 from the Internal Revenue Service. Although my stepdad has been dead for over two years, it appeared that the government thought he, too, was still deserving of a little stimulus money.
I did a bit of research and found that I'm not the only one opening a mailbox to find checks like these. Media outlets around the U.S. are reporting that the IRS has been sending checks out over the last few weeks to Americans who passed away in 2018 and 2019. It has caused so much confusion that the IRS has finally issued guidance on what should be done with these checks.
First, the big question. Can you keep your loved one's stimulus payment? The unequivocal answer, according to the IRS, is no. The check must be returned to the government.
If the check was made out jointly to you and a deceased spouse, you may cash the check and keep your portion, but your spouse's portion must be returned to the IRS.
Here's what the IRS says to do with a paper check you receive:
- Write "Void" in the endorsement section on the back of the check.
- Mail the voided Treasury check immediately to the appropriate IRS location (see list below).
- Do not staple, bend, or paper clip the check.
- Include a note stating the reason for returning the check.
If the payment was by paper check and you have cashed it, or if the payment was a direct deposit, here's what you should do:
- Submit a personal check or money order immediately to the appropriate IRS location (see list below);
- Make the check/money order payable to "U.S. Treasury";
- Write "2020EIP" and the deceased person's taxpayer identification number (social security number or individual taxpayer identification number) on the check or money order; and
- Include a brief explanation of the reason for returning the payment.
Here's where to mail the check:
- If you live in Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, or Vermont, mail it to: Andover Internal Revenue Service, 310 Lowell St. Andover, MA 01810
- If you live in Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, or Virginia, mail it to: Atlanta Internal Revenue Service, 4800 Buford Hwy, Chamblee, GA 30341
- If you live in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, or Texas, mail it to: Austin Internal Revenue Service, 3651 S Interregional Hwy 35, Austin, TX 78741
- If you live in New York, mail it to: Brookhaven Internal Revenue Service, 5000 Corporate Ct., Holtsville, NY 11742
- If you live in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, or Wyoming, mail it to: Fresno Internal Revenue Service, 5045 E Butler Avenue, Fresno, CA 93888
- If you live in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, or West Virginia, mail it to: Kansas City Internal Revenue Service, 333 W Pershing Rd., Kansas City, MO 64108
- If you live in Alabama, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, or Tennessee, mail it to: Memphis Internal Revenue Service, 5333 Getwell Rd., Memphis, TN 38118
- If you live in District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Pennsylvania, or Rhode Island, mail it to: Philadelphia Internal Revenue Service, 2970 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19104
- If you live in a foreign country, U.S. possession or territory, or use an APO or FPO address, or file Form 2555 or 4563, or are a dual-status alien, mail it to: Austin Internal Revenue Service, 3651 S Interregional Hwy 35, Austin, TX 78741
If you've lost a loved one recently, our Family Survivorship Guide can help you navigate the financial decisions you'll need to make in the months ahead. Download this free guide here.
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