Get a stimulus check for a deceased loved one? Yes, the IRS wants the money back

Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr has learned that bottom line -- the government wants that money back.

A second round of stimulus money is likely headed to many households but there are some people in metro Atlanta who are still confused over what to do when they receive the money for a dead relative.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr has learned that bottom line -- the government wants that money back.

Carr started looking into how you return that money and found that the best thing you can do is get in contact with the government first before you end up paying the price.

Content Continues Below

It's been about two weeks since Adrienne Feinberg received mail addressed to her late brother, Marvin.

“I was surprised to see that it was the stimulus check for the $1,200 like I’d seen and heard about,” Feinberg said. “I didn’t know what the true situation is. I just know that I didn’t feel right keeping it.”

Feinberg’s brother passed away in 2018 and she holds his power of attorney and served as a Social Security payee.

TRENDING STORIES:

While the mailing instructed her to check a box if the payee was deceased and return the money, Feinberg said she also received mixed messaging.

“The information that I got online seemed to suggest that they were going to hold people accountable and you needed to send it back, but what I heard on the news was that it was similar to the stimulus that Obama sent out and they didn’t really have any language in that to return the money, they weren’t going to require you to return the money,” Feinberg said.

So we took Feinberg’s concerns to tax attorney Jennifer Bender.

“People aren’t sure what to do with a check or a direct deposit that they may have received for a deceased relative,” Bender told Carr. “What they need to understand is that the check is really a pre-payment of a credit that everyone is going to be computing on their 2020 tax returns. So if someone isn’t filing a 2020 tax return, there’s no way they’re entitled to this credit.”

Feinberg did return the money in a separate envelope addressed the U.S. Treasury address on the original mailing.

Unless you got some confirmation that they received it, you really don’t know what’s happened to that money once you’ve sent it back.

“Well thanks for raising that point because I hadn’t thought about that, but hopefully it will make its way to the right office,” Feinberg said.

“You also want to keep clear documentation that you’ve also sent this back to the IRS,” Bender said.

Bender said the IRS has two years to come to you and get that money back, so if you decide to keep the money, you risk interest building and a fight down the road.

A tax expert is questioning whether the money, legally, must be returned.