IRS: Some stimulus checks sent to wrong accounts
BY CAROL POLSKY
May 15, 2008
Through the wonders of modern technology, some of those federal economic stimulus checks are being deposited directly into recipients' bank accounts.
But some are not - and are instead winding up in the bank accounts of complete strangers.
"We do know of instances of problems; we've heard of situations where stimulus checks have gone to the wrong people's bank accounts," conceded Kevin McKeon, the Internal Revenue Service spokesman for the New York region. "We're getting a lot of calls to the toll-free number."
One local taxpayer, who asked not to be identified, reported that he had discovered an unexpected deposit of $1,800 in his bank account. He said a review of his bank records revealed that it was a deposit from the IRS bearing another taxpayer's Social Security number. He said he contacted the IRS and was told by an agent that the deposit was one of 15,000 misrouted checks sent out incorrectly as a result of a computer programming glitch.
McKeon said he could not confirm that figure or that a computer problem was responsible.
The stimulus checks are for up to $600 for a qualifying single taxpayer, $1,200 for a couple filing jointly, and $300 additional per child. Distribution began in late April, starting with taxpayers who had requested electronic deposits, and are continuing in weekly waves based on the ending digits in Social Security numbers. Paper checks will be sent out in the same way up until July 11.
"Overall, the vast majority of stimulus payments are going out timely and accurately to taxpayers," the IRS said in a statement issued in response to questions from Newsday. "To date more than 29 million stimulus payments totaling more than $27 billion have been issued.
"As taxpayers contact us with questions regarding the amount or the timing of their own stimulus payment, the IRS is providing answers and resolving taxpayer-specific issues."
McKeon directed those awaiting stimulus or 2007 tax refund checks to irs.gov/indi viduals/article/0, id=96596,00.html, or the toll-free service Refund Hotline at 800-829-1954.
Those receiving misdirected IRS deposits must report the mistake to their bank, McKeon said. Similarly, paper checks sent to incorrect recipients must be mailed back to the IRS, he said, and any money spent before the recipient is aware of the mistake must be repaid.
Several local accountants say that while they haven't yet come across any clients reporting misdirected stimulus checks, they have on occasion had clients who received mailed refund checks intended for other taxpayers - and who were told to return them. They also cited other bookkeeping mishaps, including clients with long-overdue refunds.
Bart Fooden, a Woodbury certified public accountant, said a client who filed a late 2006 return last year is still waiting for his electronic refund six months later. The IRS is trying to trace it, he said, adding: "According to them, they issued the refund in January."