NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – KRQE News 13 has discovered the state is sending stimulus checks to people who’ve died. Some of their families are asking why. KRQE News 13 spoke with a woman who says she received two stimulus checks this month for her father who passed away nearly a year ago. Not only was she perplexed she received it but is now having a hard time cashing it.
Peggy Gunnink told KRQE, “I received a check from the state of New Mexico for the amount of $500. But what was interesting is that it said “to the estate of” and my father’s name. I looked at it, and I thought, hmm, I don’t know why I’m receiving this. My father’s been dead almost a year.”
Gunnink says she was told she’d need to open an account that says “estate of” and the person’s name in order to cash the checks. “I kind of looked at her like how many people have an account that says estate of and the person’s name. And she kind of looked at me like, you know, not very many,” she said.
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In order to do that she would need to call the IRS for a tax ID number. “I said, how many of these checks you Have you seen? And her eyebrows kind of went up? And she said, Peggy, we’ve seen a lot of them.”
KRQE asked the state why stimulus checks would be going to people who are no longer alive. According to the Taxation and Revenue Department, laws that were enacted in the regular and special sessions earlier this year don’t require someone to still be living to qualify for rebates.
Stephanie Schardin Clarke is the Secretary of the Taxation and Revenue Department. She explains, “If someone was alive during all or part of 2021, and either they or their estate have filed a return on their behalf for that year, then they are eligible.”
It turns out there’s another fix to this problem. Taxpayers should return the check and provide information the person is deceased and then fill out a form. The Tax and Revenue Department would then reissue the check in their name. Schardin Clarke says. “That property does still belong to the estate of the deceased person. And we’re here to make sure that we can connect the property with the proper person.”
Once the Tax and Revenue Department receives the check, death certificate, and affidavit if necessary – it should take about a week or two to process and issue a new check. The department doesn’t have an exact number of how many checks have been sent to deceased people – but it’s estimated that several thousand taxpayers are affected by this.
Again, if someone is in this situation, they should return the check to the department, along with a death certificate and an “Affidavit to Obtain a Refund of NM Tax Due a Deceased Taxpayer.” That can be found here. Surviving spouses should only need the death certificate for us to reissue a check in their name only.
Taxpayers should return the check, the completed affidavit (if needed) and a death certificate to:
New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department
P. O. Box 25122
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504-5122.
There is also a call center available for taxpayers to call in at 866-285-2996. There is a high volume of calls right now but there’s a callback function people can opt for.