OCEAN COUNTY – Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari is warning residents who may receive stimulus checks made out to deceased relatives: don’t cash those checks.
Vicari himself had the experience of receiving federal COVID-19 stimulus check made out to a late relative who died more than two years ago.
“The suddenness of the coronavirus outbreak and the federal government’s quick action to bolster the economy and assist residents means that in some cases checks have mistakenly been issued to deceased residents.” Vicari said.
“Please do not attempt to cash these checks. Instead, simply check the box on the envelope you received and place it back into the mailbox. The check will then be automatically returned to the Treasury Department,” Vicari said.
The Internal Revenue Service issued additional guidelines on how to return the money.
If an envelope is not available, the check can be sent to Kansas City Refund Inquiry Unit, 333 W Pershing Road, Mail Stop 6800, N-2 Kansas City, MO 64108.
Before returning any check, write “void” on the endorsement line of the back of the check.
If stimulus money is deposited directly into a deceased person’s bank account, a personal check for that same amount should be sent to the address above. Make the check or money order payable to “U.S. Treasury” and write 2020EIP, and the taxpayer identification number (social security number or individual taxpayer identification number) of the original recipient of the check.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said in recent news interviews, relatives and estates of dead people who received checks should return the money.
The federal government mailed out more than 89 million checks in the first three weeks of the program. Overall, more than 150 million checks were mailed.
Vicari said, “with those kind of numbers some mistakes are bound to be made.”
Federal officials and President Donald Trump have said checks issued to the deceased need to be returned.
Vicari strongly recommended that residents, “do the right thing. Check the box and return the check.”
The federal stimulus program has been especially important to Ocean County, where nearly 30 percent of the population is age 60 or older.
“In these very difficult times, both our seniors and our younger families are depending on these checks to help make ends meet,” Vicari said.