One week after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that dead people aren't eligible for stimulus check after it emerged that an unknown number of recently deceased Americans had received a $1200 tax credit as part of the coronavirus helicopter money package, the Internal Revenue Service made sure that the dead will only be allowed to vote instead of stimulating the economy, when it announced that individuals who got a $1,200 stimulus payment intended for someone who’s deceased or incarcerated should return the money. It wasn't clear how the IRS will "enforce" collecting from the dead or their relatives.
The $1,200 stimulus payments for adults earning as much as $75,000 and $500 for their children began hitting bank accounts in April. The IRS is still processing tens of millions more checks to be distributed in the coming weeks.
Instructions posted to the IRS’s website Wednesday said recipients of what the Treasury Department calls "inadvertent" payments should write void on paper checks and mail them back (sure, they'll get right on it). Even more amusing were instructions to those who received direct-deposit payments or have already cashed the payments: they should send a personal check or money order to the IRS for the amount of the payment.
Deceased and incarcerated individuals do not qualify to receive Economic Impact Payments. See FAQ #41 to learn how to return an inadvertent payment: https://t.co/hrxkKP4qtg— Treasury Department (@USTreasury) May 6, 2020
As Bloomberg notes, the instructions don’t say whether recipients are required to return the payments or what will happen to them if they don’t send the money back. The IRS didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about how it plans to enforce the guidelines.
The IRS excessive generosity was noticed last month, when it people in prison and family members of individuals who had died in the past several months were receiving payments. The reason is that while the federal government regularly updates taxpayer rolls with death certificate information, the IRS was relying on data that in some cases was from as long ago as 2018 for processing the payments.
Taking a step back, some were curious why the IRS is wasting it time with this stupidity, or why the IRS still exists when the Fed will just monetize all the US deficits going forward in perpetuity and nobody needs to pay taxes, period, was not immediately clear.