How do I return a decedent’s stimulus check, and what happens if I don’t?

By Andrea Anderson | May 6, 2020

Today on Twitter, the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Treasury Department answered at least one of the questions on many Executors’ minds these days.  While many Americans are wondering when they may receive their Economic Impact Payment (EIP) that was promised in mid-April, the family members of the recently departed have been wondering what to do about the surprise $1,200 payment they received last month.

Treasury Department has finally informed us that the deceased “do not qualify” for the EIP, and fiduciaries and family members should look to the IRS Web site for guidance on how to return the funds. Q&A 41 on the EIP Information Center Page instructs recipients of paper checks to write “VOID” on the back of the check and return it to Treasury by mail with a note explaining why you are returning it.  If the EIP was direct deposited (or if you already cashed the check), you are supposed to submit a personal check or money order IMMEDIATELY to Treasury with the memo 2020EIP and the decedent’s social security number (again include a note).  The appropriate mailing address varies by state and is included at the bottom of Q&A 41.  For Tennessee residents, the correct address is Memphis Refund Inquiry Unit, 5333 Getwell Rd Mail, Stop 8422, Memphis, TN 38118.

So, what happens if you don’t follow these instructions and return the check?  We are still waiting for the government to provide us with some guidance, but my advice is always to follow the rules.

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