Penalties await individuals who are cashing stimulus checks that do not belong to them.
With the Department of Finance’s release of $42.7 million in stimulus checks last week, Division of Revenue & Taxation director Tracy B. Norita warns of penalties for those who are cashing or not turning in checks that were wrongly sent, or are cashing checks of deceased persons.
“There are criminal penalties for those that are cashing checks that don’t belong to them,” Norita warns. “As for collection of these monies that should have been returned, our division will take enforcement action and collect this money through our collection procedures, which include notices to the taxpayer.”
Revenue & Taxation could also file liens against the taxpayer who did not return the money, which would impact that individual’s ability to get loans. A tax levy can also be issued where Revenue & Taxation garnishes the money from an individual’s bank account, or seize his or her assets.
Many have reported receiving other people’s stimulus checks in their postal boxes and these checks should be returned to the post office, or to the Office of Revenue & Taxation.
In cases of duplicate or erroneous payment, or payment was made for a deceased person, Norita said “void” should be written on the back of the check in the endorsement section, and then the check should be returned in person to the Revenue & Taxation drop box, or by mail.
For those who have filed joint returns, the portion of the deceased person must be returned. Incarcerated individuals also do not qualify for payment.
“If it was a check that you had cashed already or was made through direct deposit, you can come in person and make a payment, whether it be by credit card or check, or again, you can mail in your check or money order to the Division of Revenue & Taxation,” she added.
Individuals who have moved, or who prefer their stimulus checks sent to a different postal box must fill out the Internal Revenue Service Form 8822, Change of Address. “We do validate what information was entered into the system, but if they need to change the address that they had indicated on their return, they do need to fill out a form, 8822 Change of Address Form, for us to officially change their address in the system,” Norita explained. “If it was a simple error that was made on our side, we can change the address on the check, and have that re-issued and re-sent out. We are entertaining the address issue at this time.”