Are You Eligible to Receive a Stimulus Check?

Many Americans are beginning to receive the current round of stimulus checks distributed under the American Rescue Plan. But what do you do if you receive a check for a spouse or other loved one who died in 2020?

What you can’t do is keep the money. The government is making it clear that anyone who died in 2020 is NOT qualified to get a stimulus check.

If you filed a joint return in 2020 and your spouse is now deceased, you should only receive up to $1,400 for you, and $1,400 for any qualifying children or adult dependents.

However, if you did or do receive a payment via debit card, direct deposit, or check for a deceased person, you must return it. “A [stimulus] payment made to someone who died before receipt of the payment should be returned to the IRS by following the instructions about repayments,” according to guidance posted on IRS.gov. “Return the entire payment unless the payment was made to joint filers and one spouse had not died before receipt of the payment, in which case, you only need to return the portion of the payment made on account of the decedent.”

How do you return a stimulus check?

The IRS has provided very clear instructions on how to return an economic impact payment (EIP) that was mailed to, or deposited into, the account of a deceased person.

If the payment was a paper check and it hasn’t been cashed:

  • Write “Void” in the endorsement section on the back of the check.
  • Mail the voided Treasury check immediately to the appropriate IRS location for your state.
  • Don’t staple, bend or paper clip the check.
  • Include a note stating the reason for returning the check.

If the stimulus payment was a paper check and you have cashed it, or if the payment was a direct deposit:

  • Submit a personal check, money order, etc., immediately to the appropriate IRS location for your state.
  • Write on the check/money order made payable to “U.S. Treasury” and write “2020EIP,” and the taxpayer identification number (Social Security number, or individual taxpayer identification number) of the recipient of the check.
  • Include a brief explanation of the reason for returning the EIP.

The IRS has provided mailing addresses for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and for persons residing outside the United States:

Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont: Andover Refund Inquiry Unit, 310 Lowell St, Mail Stop 666A, Andover, MA 01810

Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Virginia: Atlanta Refund Inquiry Unit, 4800 Buford Hwy, Mail Stop 112, Chamblee, GA 30341

Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas: Austin Refund Inquiry Unit, 3651 S Interregional Hwy 35, Mail Stop 6542, Austin, TX 78741

New York: Brookhaven Refund Inquiry Unit, 5000 Corporate Ct., Mail Stop 547, Holtsville, NY 11742

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming: Fresno Refund Inquiry Unit, 5045 E Butler Avenue, Mail Stop B2007, Fresno, CA 93888

Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, West Virginia: Kansas City Refund Inquiry Unit, 333 W Pershing Rd, Mail Stop 6800, N-2, Kansas City, MO 64108

Alabama, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee: Memphis Refund Inquiry Unit, 5333 Getwell Rd Mail Stop 8422, Memphis, TN 38118

District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island: Philadelphia Refund Inquiry Unit, 2970 Market St, DP 3-L08-151, Philadelphia, PA 19104

A foreign country, U.S. possession or territory, or use an APO or FPO address, or file Form 2555 or 4563, or are a dual-status alien: Austin Refund Inquiry Unit, 3651 S Interregional Hwy 35, Mail Stop 6542 AUSC, Austin, TX 78741