Given the speed that the IRS managed to send stimulus payments into checking accounts over the last two years, it should not be a surprise that there were some mistakes that were made. Whatever the problem, don’t be surprised if you hear from the IRS if any of the following five categories fit your situation.
1. Your income was too high
The three stimulus checks that were sent out carried a strict income limit. Once a person reached that threshold, their stimulus check was phased out. Out of all the stimulus checks that were sent in 2020 and 2021, it is reasonable to think that some were later discovered to be distributed to individuals whose income exceeded their eligibility. And here is the thing about the tax-related errors: It could take years for the IRS to catch the mistake that was made. When it does catch it, though, it is safe to expect the IRS call or make some sort of contact.
2. You received a stimulus check for a loved one who died
The past few years have really been a blur for a lot of us, with a lot of lost loved ones. The date of that person’s death will determine whether you have a right to keep their stimulus money. If a loved one has died sometime in 2019, the IRS most likely didn’t know about the death when it sent out the first round of checks in 2020. That is why the IRS says the portion that was sent in the name of the deceased family member should be returned.
Let’s say you are married, and your spouse passed away in 2019. You had not filed your 2020 taxes yet, so the IRS didn’t know about the death of your loved one. Checks that were sent in April 2020 were for $1,200 each eligible adult. If you had received $2,400, you might learn that you have to return the $1,200 that was sent to your spouse.
To date, there has been a lot of confusion surrounding the problem. However, payments that were sent in 2020 but intended for those who died in 2019 have to be returned.
3. You are a non-citizen
If you have lived in the United States for years, paid your income taxes, but are not a citizen yet, you might have received a check. If so, it is possible that the IRS will discover that mistake and request the money back.
4. You was sent an extra check
Numerous checks have been sent out, it’s possible that some individuals received more than one check for the same round of stimulus checks. If you were eligible for collecting stimulus funds but have received more than just one check in the first, second, or third rounds, do not be surprised if the IRS wants you to return that extra money.
5. You are considered to be a nonresident alien
If you are a nonresident alien that is working in the United States and paying taxes, you might have received some stimulus funds. If so, you are not eligible and might be asked to return the cash.
If you do get a notification from the IRS, do not panic. The IRS is usually pretty easy to work with. One important thing is to respond to the IRS in a timely manner. The fastest way to get a letter to the IRS is to mail it to their office that serves your region.