To help with the economic downturn during the coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans have started receiving their government stimulus checks, even some who are deceased and cannot even spend the money, according to MarketWatch.
As the stimulus money hit bank accounts across the country, reports started surfacing that deceased individuals had also received checks from the IRS.
On Wednesday, Rep. Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky, tweeted a screenshot of a text from a friend showing that friend’s father, who died in 2018, received a $1,200 stimulus check.
Ok this is insane, but just the tip of the iceberg. This is a direct text to me from a friend. I called to confirm this actually just happened. pic.twitter.com/GBRPcmYMXW— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) April 15, 2020
Adam Markowitz, an enrolled agent and vice president of Howard L Markowitz PA, CPA, based in Leesburg, Florida, told MarketWatch he’s seen examples of his clientele receiving checks from the IRS for dead people and said it appears his clients can keep the money.
“There is nothing that the IRS has that is preventing someone who is deceased from receiving this money,” said Markowitz.
According to MarketWatch, the IRS determines eligibility and check amounts based on the adjusted gross income on a household’s 2019 tax return, which is now due July 15. If the IRS doesn’t have someone’s 2019 return yet, it moves to the 2018 return to determine the stimulus check.
“The IRS claims it is going to take the data from your most recent tax return that is available,” Markowitz said to MarketWatch. “If a taxpayer filed jointly with a deceased spouse in 2018 and has not filed a 2019 tax return yet, the IRS likely has no safeguard in place to ensure that it won’t make that payment to someone who is no longer with us.”
According to MarketWatch, the IRS and Treasury Department did not immediately respond to their requests for comment.