WASHINGTON (CNBC) - Almost 60,000 stimulus checks sent to deceased individuals have been returned voluntarily, according to a Treasury Department report issued Thursday. The funds sent back totaled $72 million.
The $1,200 economic impact payments were issued to households as part of the CARES Act pandemic relief law passed in March 2020. The IRS issued roughly 168 million checks totaling $280 billion by year-end.
However, the federal government sent nearly 4.5 million payments to individuals who potentially didn’t qualify for the aid, according to the Treasury report.
About half those payments, which totaled $5.5 billion, went to deceased individuals, according to the Treasury, which analyzed such data through mid-July. The rest were issued to dependents, nonresidents and others who erroneously received duplicate payments.
About 59,500 of those payments to the deceased, worth $72 million, had been voluntarily returned by Oct. 1, according to the report.
They constitute the vast majority of the total 65,447 total stimulus checks (worth $80 million) that Americans returned to the federal government.
The CARES Act based payment eligibility on 2018 or 2019 tax returns, whichever was most recently available to the IRS. But Americans may have died after those tax returns had been filed — especially as the coronavirus pandemic began to spread across the U.S.