ATLANTA — The third round of stimulus checks is still going out to some Americans while others are already putting theirs to use. But, now, some may have to give back their checks.
President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan gave millions of people a third stimulus check of up to $1,400. So far, it seems to be helping with the Commerce Department reporting that retail sales surged nearly 10 percent in March after people got their payments.
However, some people weren't actually supposed to get a check.
“That could be the group of folks who were deceased towards the end of 2020 where the government didn't know about it when they issued these stimulus payments,” 11Alive Financial Expert Andrew Poulos said. “It could also be nonresident aliens who erroneously received these stimulus payments.”
Poulos said anyone who died before Jan. 1, 2021, is not entitled to the payments, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) describes "nonresident aliens" as those who are not U.S. citizens or U.S. nationals and haven't passed the Green Card or Substantial Presence tests.
Poulos said that if you know you're not entitled to the stimulus payment, you should send it back as soon as possible.
“You don't want to get into a situation where you prolong the inevitable and, then, you have the IRS basically, at some point in time, coming knocking on the door asking for the money,” he said.
He added that because people received their payments differently, returning it will be different for each person as well.
“If you received a check in the mail, you may just want to write void on the signature line and mail it to the office on the IRS website,” Poulos said. “If you received direct deposit or a debit card where you've put the money in your account, certainly you can return the money by making a check payable to the U.S. Treasury.”
He said that, of the millions of people who got the checks, he doesn't think there are many who will have to return the money, and he thinks some of the mistakes may just be system errors.
“Things happen and it's not a perfect system,” Poulos said.