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Should You Return Your Incentive Money to the IRS? Could be. Here’s What You Need to Know



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We’ll tell you how to tell if you need to return an overpaid stimulus check to the IRS.

Sarah Tew / CNET

One hundred sixty-one million third stimulus check payments are made to individuals and families who have qualify for the payments. That includes “plus-up payments“for those who qualify for a larger check based on their Tax returns 2020. But what happens if the IRS sends you incentive money? did not really qualify for? You may have to repay the overpaid amount. (This applies to the child tax credit, also.)

We will go through scenarios in which you should return incentive money you received for one of the three checks. For example with the first stimulus control, the IRS accidentally sent payments to people who did not qualify. If you received an incorrect check, there are specific ways to return the money depending on the payment method used – paper check, EIP card or direct deposit.

Read on for more information. For more information, here how to get back up to $ 50,000 with one-time COVID credits, and what we know debt cancellation of student loans. Brush up on the situation with a fourth stimulus control, and educate yourself about all that confusing child discount rules, including how much money you could get. This story has been updated.

What if you get incentive money you don’t qualify for with the $ 1,400 check?

The income limit to receive a third stimulus check is $ 80,000 for an individual taxpayer, $ 120,000 for a householder, and $ 160,000 for a married couple filing jointly. If you make more than that amount and still receive a payment, the IRS will likely expect you to return all or part of it.

However, if you earned more in 2020 than in 2019, but you get an incentive check before filing your tax return, you are not expected to return that money. You can use our third stimulus check calculator to estimate how much you will get.






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Why you may need to return some or all of the incentive money you received

The government determines who is and who is not qualify for a stimulus check based on various factors. If you fall into one of these categories and received a stimulus check, it was probably by mistake:

  • You received a check for someone who passed away, but there is some nuance here (more below).
  • You do not have a social security number.
  • You are considered a “non-resident alien” without a spouse of a US citizen.
  • You are a non-citizen filing federal taxes.
  • Your adjusted gross income exceeds the limit; for example, $ 87,000 for a single taxpayer on the second check.
  • You are claimed as a dependent about someone else’s taxes (this applies to the first and second checks).
  • You have received the same payment round twice.

There is more information on this who did not qualify for the $ 600 incentive check.

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Has your stimulus check total been calculated correctly?

Sarah Tew / CNET

What to know if a family member in your household has died

If you received a payment for someone who died in 2019 or earlier, the IRS says you must repay the full payment “unless it was made to joint filers and one spouse is still alive.” If you’re the living spouse, you’ll have to repay half of the payment – just no more than $ 1,200 in total.

However, if the check was issued in both your name and the name of your deceased spouse (and therefore you cannot deposit the money), you must return the entire amount to the IRS. After the agency processes the returned payment, it will issue a new check with the correct amount for you.

For the third check it depends on which tax return the IRS uses. If it uses your 2019 tax return, you will likely keep the amount you received for the person who passed away.

If you’ve already redeemed or deposited the stimulus payment you received, the IRS wants you to pay it back as follows

If you’ve already cashed or deposited your check, here’s what you can do.

1. Use a personal check or money order and make the check payable to the U.S. Treasury. You must also write “EIP 2020” and include the taxpayer identification number or Social Security number of the person whose name is on the check.

2. On a separate sheet of paper, let the IRS know why you are returning the check.

3. Mail the check to the correct IRS location – that depends on the state you live in.

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Make sure you know if you received the correct amount.

Sarah Tew / CNET

If you never cashed or deposited the paper check you got, here’s what the IRS wants you to do

If any of the above applies to you, you may need to return your stimulus check. Here’s how to do this for each scenario, according to the IRS.

1. Write “VOID” in the approval section on the back of the check.

2. Do not bend, clip, or staple the check.

3. On a separate sheet of paper, let the IRS know why you are returning the check.

4. Mail the check to the correct IRS location – it varies depending on the state you live in.

What to know if your stimulus check money never arrived

If you were eligible to receive it first or second stimulus control and it never arrived, you have to claim it as a recovery credit discount on your taxes for 2020 this year, even if you don’t usually file taxes. You may also have to starts an IRS payment track.

If you haven’t received the third check, or the amount is lower than you expected, the IRS can give you one plus-up payment after it receives your 2020 tax return.

You may need to refer to additional information if you:

Here’s everything you need to know to stay up to date with the latest news stimulus check delivery. If you have problems with stimulus control, do this instead of calling the IRS. And here’s what you need to know about other ways you could get money with your tax refund.


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