Two questions about one too many stimulus checks:

Dear Quentin,

I’m confused. My grandparents claimed me on their 2019 taxes as a dependent. They received the third stimulus check for me. When the third stimulus checks were released, my grandparents had not filed their 2020 taxes yet, so they received stimulus money for me as their dependent.

However, I filed my own 2020 taxes, and I am no longer their dependent. The Internal Revenue Service also sent me a third stimulus check. Who should notify the IRS about this overpayment, and how? I can’t seem to find a scenario anywhere to cover this issue.


Dear Quentin,

I need clarification because from what I have read, we should receive a stimulus payment for our adult dependent. She is currently on Social Security, and we claim her as a dependent. We support her needs year-round, and she lives with us.

She started receiving Social Security Disability Insurance in December 2020. We did not receive any stimulus money on payments in the first two rounds for her, but I know that was correct because the guidelines for the age of dependents has changed under the most recent round of payments.

However, she also received $1,400 in her bank account where her SSI gets deposited. Should she have received a payment? Should we have? We haven’t filed our 2020 tax return yet, and I do plan on claiming her as a dependent.

I’m thinking this is a duplicate payment and should be paid back to the IRS. I can’t find any information on what to do, or if it’s correct that the taxpayer and adult dependent will receive a stimulus check. So again, I’m thinking the IRS paid her in error.


You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com.

Dear Granddaughter & Mother,

The Moneyist column has received many letters on this issue. The $1,400 economic stimulus payment is not a loan. This third stimulus check is an advanced tax credit on your 2021 taxes, and calculated based on your 2020 taxes. You both need to decide which check was sent in error.

Mother, you should consult your daughter before claiming her as a dependent to ensure you are both on the same page. Granddaughter, you should alert your grandparents of your plans to file your own taxes, and in that case they should return the payment.

You both received one check too many because those claiming the adult as a dependent had not filed their 2020 taxes, so the IRS used previous tax filings as a guide. You obviously cannot be claimed as a dependent and file a tax return yourself and expect a payment. It’s one or the other.

According to H&R Block, you may receive a letter (CP87A) from the IRS stating that your dependent was claimed on another return. “It will tell you that if you made a mistake, to file an amended return, and if you didn’t make a mistake, do nothing.”

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“The other person who claimed the dependent will get the same letter,” H&R Block adds. “If one of you doesn’t file an amended return that removes the child-related benefits, then the IRS will audit you and/or the other person to determine who can claim the dependent.”

You can return the money via check or money order with your Social Security number or taxpayer ID of the recipient, made payable to “U.S. Treasury.” Those who received a paper check and did not cash it can write “void” on the back of the check, and mail it back to the IRS. Read more here.

Individuals making less than $75,000 a year in adjusted gross income will receive $1,400. The payments decrease for individuals earning $75,000 and up — and they phase out completely for those making $80,000 or more and couples making $160,000 or more in adjusted gross income.

The issuance of payments has not been a straight line. One man told me he was “punished” by the government for being responsible because he filed his taxes early — and only received $200. Some taxpayers say they’ve received stimulus checks for dead relatives.

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