Tax Breaks

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.

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).

Prisoners, Fugitives, Parolees and Others Who Don't Get a Stimulus Check

The list of people who don't get a stimulus check (or need to return one) because they somehow broke the law actually goes beyond currently incarcerated inmates. The full list includes people who are:

  • Incarcerated in jail or a prison after being convicted of a crime;
  • Held in a mental health facility following a verdict or finding of guilty but insane, not guilty by reason of insanity, or incompetent to stand trial;
  • Determined to be a sexually dangerous person or sexual predator and confined to a halfway house or other similar facility;
  • Fleeing to avoid prosecution or prison time for a felony; and
  • In violation of probation or parole.

Paper Checks That Have Not Been Cashed

If an incarcerated person, or other person listed above, receives a paper stimulus check, and they have not cashed it, they should follow these steps:

  • Write "Void" in the endorsement section on the back of the check;
  • Mail the voided check immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below;
  • Don't staple, bend, or paper clip the check; and
  • Include a note stating the reason for returning the check.

Cashed Paper Checks and Direct Deposit Payments

If a paper check was sent and it has already been cashed, or if a direct deposit payment was received, an inmate or other person listed above should:

  • Submit a personal check, money order, etc., immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below;
  • Make the check/money order payable to "U.S. Treasury";
  • Write "2020EIP" and your taxpayer identification number (social security number or individual taxpayer identification number) on the check or money order; and
  • Include a brief explanation of the reason for returning the payment.

Where to Send the Returned Payment

Here are the IRS mailing addresses to use for returning stimulus check payments.

Mailing Addresses for Returning Stimulus Check Payments

If you live in…Mail to this address
Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, VermontAndover Refund Inquiry Unit
1310 Lowell St.
Mail Stop 666A
Andover, MA 01810
Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, VirginiaAtlanta Refund Inquiry Unit
4800 Buford Hwy.
Mail Stop 112
Chamblee, GA 30341
Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, TexasAustin Refund Inquiry Unit
3651 S Interregional Hwy. 35
Mail Stop 6542
Austin, TX 78741
New YorkBrookhaven Refund Inquiry Unit
5000 Corporate Ct.
Mail Stop 547
Holtsville, NY 11742
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, WyomingFresno Refund Inquiry Unit
5045 E Butler Ave.
Mail Stop B2007
Fresno, CA 93888
Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, West VirginiaKansas City Refund Inquiry Unit
333 W Pershing Rd.
Mail Stop 6800, N-2
Kansas City, MO 64108
Alabama, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, TennesseeMemphis Refund Inquiry Unit
5333 Getwell Rd.
Mail Stop 8422
Memphis, TN 38118
District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Rhode IslandPhiladelphia Refund Inquiry Unit
2970 Market St.
DP 3-L08-151
Philadelphia, PA 19104
A foreign country, U.S. possession or territory, or use an APO or FPO address, or file Form 2555 or 4563, or are a dual-status alienAustin Refund Inquiry Unit
3651 S Interregional Hwy. 35
Mail Stop 6542 AUSC
Austin, TX 78741

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