Do People in Jail Get a Stimulus Check?

The IRS released guidance on what people incarcerated in jail or prison should do if they receive a stimulus check.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A lot of people who you might not think would be getting a stimulus check have received a payment—including dead people. But what about inmates who are locked up in prison? Should they get a stimulus check? And if they get one, should they be able to keep it?

According to the IRS, an incarcerated person does not qualify for a stimulus check. In fact, if a person in jail or prison gets a payment, they're supposed to return it to the IRS immediately. The entire payment should be returned, unless it was made payable to joint filers and only one spouse is incarcerated. In that case, only the portion of the payment for the prisoner needs to be returned (this amount will be $1,200, unless the couple's adjusted gross income exceeded $150,000).

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Rocky Mengle

Rocky Mengle was a Senior Tax Editor for Kiplinger from October 2018 to January 2023 with more than 20 years of experience covering federal and state tax developments. Before coming to Kiplinger, Rocky worked for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting, and Kleinrock Publishing, where he provided breaking news and guidance for CPAs, tax attorneys, and other tax professionals. He has also been quoted as an expert by USA Today, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Reuters, Accounting Today, and other media outlets. Rocky holds a law degree from the University of Connecticut and a B.A. in History from Salisbury University.