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The Moneyist: I received two $1,200 stimulus payments. One was direct deposit and the other was a paper check — I cashed the check

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Dear Moneyist,

I received two stimulus checks. One was direct deposit and the other was a paper check. I should have only received one check. I fully expect the Internal Revenue Service will want the second check refunded. I cashed the paper check, but I put the cash aside so that I won’t spend it. How can I return the second check to the IRS? I couldn’t find anything on the IRS website.

Jason

Dear Jason,

This is not a surprising turn of events.

Some people are upset that they didn’t receive a large enough check or no economic impact payment at all, while you have received two, while other tax payers say they’ve received stimulus checks for dead relatives. This man said he was effectively punished by the government “punished” for being responsible because he filed his 2019 taxes early — and received $200 for his household.

Also see: I received my ex-husband’s $1,200 stimulus check because we filed joint taxes in 2018. Should I give him the money or return it to the IRS?

You can return the money via check or money order with “2020EIP,” plus the Social Security number or taxpayer I.D. of the check recipient. Those people who received a paper check and did not cash it can write “void” on the back of the check’s endorsement section and mail it back to the IRS, according the IRS directions (see Q41), with an explanation.

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People who did not receive a check this year or only a small amount and believe their income will fall next year should receive a more generous refund from the IRS to make up for it. The stimulus check is an advance payment of a refundable credit on your 2020 return. The IRS is using 2019 tax returns to gauge people’s incomes; 2018 tax returns are being used as a Plan B.

The IRS has sent out 128.3 million stimulus checks so far and already paid $218.4 billion — which is most of the stimulus money that’s been set aside for direct payments to families and individuals across America as the coronavirus outbreak continues, the agency said last week. That will obviously be welcome for the more than 30 million people who are out of a job.

Bravo for doing the right thing. It does bring more fairness to this often haphazard process. One-third of Americans say they expect that their share of the stimulus money won’t even sustain them for a full month, according to this survey. Chuck Rettig, the commissioner for the federal tax agency, said, “We are working hard to continue delivering these payments to Americans who need them.”

Thank you, Jason, for doing your part.

Dispatches from a pandemic:Letter from New York: ‘New Yorkers wear colorful homemade masks, while nurses wear garbage bags’

Coronavirus update: As of Sunday, nearly 9 million people had been tested in the U.S. for SARS-CoV-2. There were 1,329,260 confirmed cases in the U.S., and 79,526 deaths, of which 26,641 were in New York state, the epicenter of the pandemic. Worldwide, there were 4,101,699 confirmed cases and 282,709 deaths, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

The Moneyist: My son is staying with me, yet my financially irresponsible ex-husband received his $500 stimulus check. Is my ex right to keep it?

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com

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