Since March 2020, the federal government has issued stimulus payments to millions of Americans to help combat the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. These included an initial payment of $1,200 per eligible adult and a second payment of $600 per eligible adult. When the IRS distributed the money, some of the payments inevitably went to deceased individuals because the IRS used 2019 tax returns to determine eligibility. As checks were distributed, questions were raised about eligibility for those who passed in 2020.

Congress Declares Certain Deceased Americans Are Entitled

Originally, the IRS indicated that payments sent to those who were not alive at the time of disbursement would need to be sent back. But with the legislation surrounding the second stimulus payment, it was decided that individuals who had died in 2020 were still entitled to both the first and second stimulus checks. Only recipients who passed away in 2019 or earlier had to return their stimulus payment. Additionally, Congress passed legislation stating that individuals who passed away in 2020 and did not file a tax return may qualify through the Recovery Rebate Credit.

How to Claim Stimulus Via the Recovery Rebate Credit

As stated, if you have already received stimulus checks for eligible, deceased loved ones, then you can keep them. But if your relative hasn’t received their stimulus, there are steps you can take to both determine their eligibility and claim that money if they qualify.

It starts with filing a tax return on behalf of the deceased family member. The IRS requests that you complete the Recovery Rebate Worksheet found in the instructions for Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR to determine their eligibility. If your claim is granted, the stimulus will be deposited and is yours to keep. As of now, Congress and the IRS have not released guidelines for Americans who have passed in 2021.

Tax Professionals Can Help You Through This Process

We know that it can be complicated to file a tax return on someone’s behalf. Contact us if you need assistance filing a tax return for a recently deceased family member or you have questions on whether they qualify for the Economic Impact Payment.