IRS Warns You May Need to Return Stimulus Money

Over the past two years, millions of people in the United States have received government financial assistance in the form of three separate stimulus checks. If you received the full amount for each payment, that amounted to $3,200 in COVID relief. The last checks started arriving in households in March 2021, so many of us have already exhausted all those funds. But it turns out not everyone was supposed to keep the money they got from the IRS. Depending on the tax agency, some stipulations may require you to return your third stimulus check. Read on to find out if you owe the IRS that money.

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There were many qualifications you had to meet to legally receive the third stimulus payment – and your citizenship was one of them. While you didn’t necessarily have to be a U.S. citizen to get the check, you had to be considered a tax-eligible resident alien in 2021 and not be declared a dependent of another taxpayer to be eligible. .

According to the IRS, people in the United States who were considered nonresident aliens — people who are not U.S. citizens or U.S. nationals — in 2021 are not eligible for this third check. So if you did not receive it correctly, you will have to refund it. “An alien who received a payment but is not an eligible resident alien for 2021 must return the payment to the IRS,” the agency said.


You should know that you should not cash a check that is not addressed to you. But the IRS could have potentially sent the third stimulus payments to people who died before Jan. 1, 2021, though it noted those recipients aren’t eligible. And you might assume that since they can’t use it, you can, but that’s not the case. “A payment made to a deceased person prior to receiving the payment must be returned to the IRS,” the tax agency said.

An example, however, might allow you to keep some of the money. The IRS says that if the payment was made to joint filers and one spouse is still alive, that person can request to receive a new check for their eligible portion. “If you can’t cash or deposit a joint payment because it was issued to you and a deceased spouse in 2021, return the check,” advises the IRS, adding that you should “include a letter asking us to reissue the third payment in your sole name as the surviving spouse.”

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A federal treasury check plus an assortment of various US banknotes.  Concept image for government payments for corona virus relief, IRS reimbursement, small business administration loans and grants, or other financial payments.

The third stimulus check was issued to most people last year as a 2021 tax credit advancement. According to NerdWallet, this means that since the IRS did not yet have access to your 2021 tax information when sending this payment, it likely relied on your 2020 or 2019 tax return to determine if you were eligible. As a result, taxpayers might find they don’t actually qualify for all the money they received for the third economic impact payment when they file their 2021 return.

But luckily the IRS has no wrong, no bad view on the beneficiaries in this case. According to the tax agency, you don’t have to pay back the money from your third stimulus check, even if you received too much. “If you are entitled to a third payment based on your 2019 or 2020 tax return, the law does not require you to repay all or part of the payment you received based on the information reported on your 2021 tax return. “, explains the IRS. .

woman reading document and scanning specific words with finger

You can recover this money from the tax authorities in several ways. If you received a paper check and have not yet cashed it, the agency advises you to void it and mail it back to your appropriate IRS location depending on the state in which you live.

On the other hand, if you received payment by direct deposit or if you have already cashed the check, you must submit a personal check or money order for the amount you owe to the IRS location. The check or money order should be made payable to the US Treasury, with your tax identification number and “Third EIP” written for the recipient of the check.

And no matter how you choose to pay off your third stimulus check, the IRS will want to know why you’re returning the money. The agency asks you to “include a brief explanation of why” you are refunding the money you received.

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