Friday, December 4, 2020
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Some stimulus checks were sent in error


Some people who had already died received money, when the U.S. government sent out urgent stimulus checks this spring.

Now it seems another ineligible group may be getting checks: foreign workers.

Reports surfaced this week that a number of those recipients are now living in their home countries. Just how big the problem could be is unknown.

To date, an estimated 160 million stimulus checks have been sent, according to the Treasury Department.

“They were learning while doing,” Janet Holtzblatt, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, said of the IRS. “They did an incredible job in a short period of time.

“But there were glitches, and [only] some of them could get fixed in the short term.”

This spring, the Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration noted that people who are not U.S. residents could receive stimulus checks.

The $1,200 per person payments were authorized by Congress with the CARES Act. The legislation included specific rules on eilgibility. Those who were specifically excluded included those who do not have a Social Security number or who are non-resident aliens.

Some people do not meet the resident alien test, but are still issued a Social Security number because they can work in the U.S.

“If you’re a non-resident alien, only your income in the United States is subject to U.S. taxes,” Holtzblatt said. “But as a non-resident alien, there are certain tax benefits that you cannot claim, and one of them was this payment.”

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