The Government Accountability Office, an independent nonpartisan congressional agency, wrote the report, which addressed the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department’s handling of the stimulus checks. More than 160 million payments worth $269 billion were distributed.
The report said that due to a mandate to deliver payments as “rapidly as possible,” the Treasury and the IRS sent out the first three batches of payments using previous operational policies and procedures for stimulus payments “which did not include using Social Security Administration death records as a filter to halt payments to decedents.” Basically, they had to get the payments out quickly to people who needed the money, so they didn’t have time to check to make sure that everyone receiving them were still alive.
The report also said that the IRS’ legal counsel had “determined that the IRS did not have the legal authority to deny payments to those who filed a return for 2019, even if they were deceased at the time of payment.”
However, the IRS notes that just because you received a stimulus check addressed to a deceased family member, that does not mean that you can use that money. Those payments “should be returned to the IRS.” However, most Americans are not going to read all of the information provided at the IRS’s Economic Impact Payment Information Center, and the report points out that the IRS does not currently have a plan in place to notify ineligible recipients on how to return payments.