NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - These Tennesseans have received the highest amount possible in stimulus checks from the government, but there is one problem, they are dead.
Brianne Fox’s father died in July 2018. Nearly two years later, he got a stimulus check.
“What do I do with this money because it doesn’t belong to me? My father’s been dead for almost two years now,” Fox said.
Another Middle Tennessean provided a photo to News4 Investigates of a stimulus check that arrived for his mother-in-law, who died in January 2019.
If you look closely at the name on the check, you can read an abbreviation for the word “deceased."
Even the envelope included a box that can be checked if a person is "deceased," though it's unclear if the envelope was also used to send tax returns for deceased people.
“It’s saying someone is not paying attention,” Fox said.
Both the deceased mother-in-law and Fox’s father received amounts of $1200, the highest possible.
“If you think of all the people who died in 2018 who might have gotten a check, that’s pretty concerning,” Fox said.
Because the stimulus checks are based on last year’s tax return, News4 Investigates called the IRS and the Department of the Treasury, as well as their offices of internal investigations, but did not get a response by our deadline.
The officer of Congressman Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, also reached out to the IRS when people started asking questions about receiving stimulus checks for their dead relatives.
Cooper’s office received an email reading in part, “We appreciate your interest in this subject, but do not currently have a response. IRS will work diligently to provide clarifying guidance.”
The man whose deceased mother-in-law received the check sent it back to the government.
But Fox’s deceased father’s stimulus check was direct deposited, so she’s waiting for instructions as to how to give the money back.
Fox said after the direct deposit, she received a letter signed by President Trump.
“The letter was addressed to him, care of me, and said hope you enjoy your stimulus check and I’m like, what do I do with this money because it doesn’t belong to me,” Fox said.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Wall Street Journal that people should return the money if their deceased relative received it.
News4 Investigates will keep pressing those government agencies for explanations, including what steps were taken to cross reference those checks with lists of deceased Americans.