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Why, When, and How You Should Return Your Incentive Money to the IRS


That extra incentive money may not be yours to keep.

Sarah Tew / CNET

As many as 160 million Americans qualified for the second stimulus check, according to the US Treasury, and millions more waiting for their money arrive. But some who did receive payment may not have met the requirements and could quickly get into the uncomfortable position of having to return it.

With the first round of emergency payments last year, the IRS said it accidentally sent incentive checks to ineligible people, and it’s possible the same thing may have happened again. If you’ve received a payment that you probably don’t think you should have, you might more than the specified income limit, for example – the IRS expects you to return the money. And depending on how you received the incentive payment – by paper check, EIP card or direct deposit – there are specific ways to return it.

We list the reasons why the IRS would want you to return an erroneously paid stimulus check and how to do it. It’s also important to keep your stimulus check rights and these important details about it incentive controls and taxes. (And here’s what happens to a potential third stimulus check, How much money that the new payment could generate and when it can be approved.) This story is regularly updated.

Reasons You May Need to Return a Stimulus Check

Qualifications are key to determining who qualifies for a second incentive check. If you fall into one of these categories and received a stimulus check, it is 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.
  • You are claimed as a dependent on someone else’s taxes.

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

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How to return a paper check you haven’t cashed or deposited

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 the check or make paper clips.

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.

How to return incentive money that you have deposited or in cash

1. Use a personal check or money order and pay the check to the U.S. Treasury. You must also write the 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 – it depends what state you live in.

Did you receive incentive money for someone who passed away?

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 sent to joint filers and one spouse is still alive.” If you are the living spouse, you must repay half of the payment, but no more than $ 1,200 in total.


While you’re still waiting for your check to arrive, you can track it.

Sarah Tew / CNET

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.

What to do if you still haven’t gotten your stimulus check

If you are one of over 100 million people who were eligible for the second $ 600 stimulus check and you did not receive it, you may be able to claim it as a recovery credit discount even about your taxes if you don’t usually file taxes. Alternatively, you may need to starts an IRS payment track.

If you are not signed up for direct deposit through the IRS, this is a good time, as one the third stimulus check is on the table. To do this, you’ll need to add your bank details when you file your 2020 taxes this year. We also encourage you to file your taxes as early as possible this year, especially because of stimulus controls.

To keep up to date with the latest stimulus news, check out what happens now that the IRS has stopped sending second stimulus controls. If you have problems with stimulus control, do this instead of calling the IRS. This is also what is happening now with a potential third incentive payment.

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