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Dead people are receiving $1,200 coronavirus stimulus payments, lawmaker says

The IRS declined to comment when asked about how the agency plans to reclaim payments made to deceased individuals or inmates

Updated: April 15, 2020 - 8:07pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Deceased people are receiving $1,200 coronavirus stimulus payments from the federal government on Wednesday.

A Twitter user posted about his deceased grandmother receiving a check.

“Deceased people are receiving stimulus checks today,” he wrote on Wednesday. “My grandmother passed away in 2018 — and $1,200 was deposited in her bank account today.”

A TIME Magazine reporter said her deceased relative received a direct payment.

"My grandma just got a $2,400 stimulus check. Her husband died in 2018, but they evidently used her 2018 tax return (which included him) to calculate how much she was owed," she wrote. "Does she have to pay $1,200 of that money back? What does she do?"

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who opposed the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package known as the CARES Act, posted on Twitter about someone who died in 2018 receiving a stimulus payment.

“Ok this is insane, but just the tip of the iceberg. This is a direct text to me from a friend. I called to confirm this actually just happened,” he wrote Wednesday on Twitter with a screenshot of a text message from his friend saying their deceased father received a stimulus payment.

The direct payments are based on individual or joint tax filings from 2018 for individuals and families who have not filed their 2019 tax returns. Social Security beneficiaries who did not file returns in those years also qualify for the payments.

Just the News has reached out to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to find out if there is a system in place to recoup the payments incorrectly made to dead people and inmates but the agency declined to comment. The Treasury Department and the Social Security Administration did not respond to requests from comment on Monday and Tuesday.

Citizens Against Government Waste President Tom Schatz told Just the News on Wednesday that the IRS relies on data submitted to the federal government from states about deceased taxpayers and inmates and some of the data is outdated. This leads to direct payments going to ineligible individuals such as deceased or incarcerated taxpayers.

"The death file, as it's called, is always out of date and that's always a problem either for normal Social Security payments and certainly in this case for the stimulus checks as well coming to dead people," he said. "It's going to happen. There's no way to avoid it because the information is not up to date and the IRS does not have the most advanced technology, as we know. It's always going to create problems simply because it is not efficient."

Schatz also said, “The factor of changes in people's lives will lead to some of this money going out to people who are either deceased or otherwise ineligible simply because of changes in their life.”