IRS sends local man stimulus money. The problem? He’s dead.

The IRS this week sent a "stimulus" payment to Robert Houston even though he died in late 2018.

His surviving spouse, Millina Fischer, said she should have received a $1,200 payment from the U.S. Treasury, which is the maximum amount individual tax filers can receive in direct coronavirus-related rescue payments approved by Congress.

But on Wednesday, a $2,400 economic impact payment, sometimes called stimulus payments, was deposited into her bank account.

Fischer said the IRS used her 2018 federal tax return to calculate her payment, because she has not filed a return for 2019 yet. The deadline for 2019 filing has been extended because of the pandemic.

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But her 2018 return clearly indicated Houston was deceased, Fischer said. The Springfield woman said she has no plans to spend the extra money, because she believes she will have to repay it.

“I don’t want to spend it because sooner or later, someone’s going to catch it and you’re going to have to pay it back,” she said.

Fischer said national news reports indicate other deceased Americans are being sent checks.

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She said the IRS should find a way to fix this problem before more payments are sent out in error. She said the agency should be able to flag tax returns that mention deceased taxpayers.

As of mid-day Wednesday, more than 6.2 million taxpayers received economic impact payments and 1.1 million taxpayers successfully provided banking information to get their payments quicker, instead of having to wait for a paper check in the mail, the IRS said.

USA Today reported that some Americans this week were surprised to learn that dead loved ones were being sent money.

Citing the Center for Taxpayer Rights, people who receive more stimulus money than they qualify for will not have to repay the money when they file a 2020 return.

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Fischer said she understands that the federal government wanted to get money out Americans as quickly as possible, since many people are facing financial hardship and desperately need cash.

But she said this needs to be corrected to prevent taxpayer dollars from being wasted.

“It’s sad, because we’re probably talking millions of dollars here,” Fischer said.

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