Stimulus payments to deceased should be returned, Treasury secretary says

Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Credit: WINK News.

Some people in Southwest Florida communities have received stimulus checks for their deceased loved ones and wondered what should they do with them. Now, at least one federal official says people should return the money in that type of situation. And local financial says it’s likely better to sit and wait before making any decision.

We looked at how realistic it is for the federal government to request those who received stimulus money for deceased loved ones to return that money and how the IRS could actually get it back.

Two weeks ago, Carolyn Mojokovic was shocked to see a stimulus payment for her late husband, Steven.

“I didn’t know if that was right,” Mojokovic said. “I didn’t know if they made a mistake.”

Her first instinct was to donate his portion to Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida and her church because that’s what Steven would do.

“He just had a giving heart,” Mojokovic said. “He had a servant heart.”

But, because the IRS didn’t address the matter, Mojokovic took advice from Charles Massie, a CPA and financial planner, and waited 90 days.

“I saved it in case there were problems,” Mojokovic said.

In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s said heirs should return the money.

But Massie says there’s still no official plan, and he’s not sure the IRS has that authority. And for those reasons, along with others, Massie calls a forceful take back unlikely.

“Going after big companies that make $10 million is one thing,” Massie said. “Going after a widow or widower that got $1,200, I think that’s going to be politically hard to swallow.”

But, should the IRS decide to make the move, Massie says Congress would need to pass a bill and have it signed by President Donald Trump.

As for the collection, it could be added to the 2020 tax return, since it’s not out yet.

“Create another line on the tax return on page two saying, if you got the $1,200 from a deceased person, pay it back,” Massie said.

Because there is still no official word, Massie says to continue to keep the money in an account until there’s guidance from the IRS.

But if returning the money is optional, Mojokovic says she’s keeping it and donating it locally like her husband would have.

“I would rather donate it to somewhere to help the people here who need it,” Mojokovic said.

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