Where is Stimulus Money?

(WSVN) - If you were waiting on that $1,200 stimulus check and got it, good for you. But many South Floridians who need it badly discovered it was sent to the wrong bank account. What can they do? It’s why they called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Kelsee was a housekeeper, and then the coronavirus swept across America.

Kelsee Ray, stimulus went to wrong account: “It hit hard, really, really hard. We lost all of our business, so I don’t have a job right now.”

There was a little good news. Congress decided to send out $1,200 stimulus checks.

Kelsee Ray: “I was excited. I was very excited.”

On April 15, she saw the IRS deposited her $1,200, but it wasn’t into her bank account. She assumed it was the fellow who does her taxes, gets her return and then deducts his fee before cutting her a check.

Kelsee Ray: “So I called the tax preparer, and he knows nothing about it.”

Kelsee says he told her he didn’t know where her $1,200 check went.

Kelsee Ray: “I just want to know where the money is. If it’s in his account, why isn’t he answering me? Can I still get it?”

Patrick Fraser: “So you don’t have her money.”

Chelton Charles: “I don’t have nothing to deal with her money.”

I went to Chelton Charles’ office. He says a company called Refund Advantage got Kelsee’s money.

Chelton Charles: “IRS sent the money to Refund Advantage. Refund Advantage rejects every single one. That means everybody will get a check from IRS, not from me.”

Congress wanted it to be simple for taxpayers: a $1,200 check.

And now, in Kelsee’s case, it’s complicated mess. Howard, what’s the problem here?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “The IRS messed up. In many cases, your tax preparer just takes his fee out of your refund. To protect you from getting ripped off, the IRS requires a bank to get the money, then give you and the preparer what you are owed. The foul-up? The IRS sent the stimulus money to the bank instead of the taxpayer, so now that bank has to send it back to the IRS to then send to you.”

Howard, a couple more questions before we get back to Kelsee. In that stimulus package, laid off workers were supposed to get an additional $600 from the feds each week in addition to their Florida unemployment. Are they out of luck until Florida gets their unemployment mess cleared up?

Howard Finkelstein: “Sadly, yes. You cannot get the extra $600 a week until you are approved for Florida’s unemployment, and no one can predict when that will happen. But when you do get approved, you should get both the state and federal money from the time you were laid off or lost your job.”

Struggling people have told us they can’t make their car insurance payments. Does that mean they could lose their license, Howard?

Howard Finkelstein: “Many car insurance companies are working with customers on a payment plan. If your insurance company is one of those that is not helping, and they suspend your insurance, you could then lose your driver’s license, so call the insurance company and try to figure out something.”

Kelsee Ray: “It was gonna solve all my problems.”

But Kelsee will have to sit and wait weeks to get that $1,200.

Kelsee Ray: “I need it. This is a necessity right now.”

The money has to be sent back to the IRS, who then has to mail Kelsee a check. Devastating to someone without a dime to her name.

Kelsee Ray: “I was gonna get some food. I was gonna be OK for a little bit.”

Why is it that the people who need it the most seem to get hit the hardest? If you can help Kelsee a little, please let us know.

Howard Finkelstein: “If you didn’t get your stimulus money, didn’t get the right amount, maybe your ex got it, there are ways to correct the mistakes, and we have put the solutions for those headaches and a lot more under this Help Me Howard.”

And if you have a problem, if you have a question you need answered, we are always here for you. Get in touch with us. We would love to help you out.


IRS – Frequently asked questions link

IRS – Tools to use to get your stimulus money

What to do if your stimulus check went to the wrong account?

If it went to an account that is closed, the money gets returned to the government (the Treasury Department), and then it will be sent to the taxpayer by a physical check, unless the taxpayer is able to update their banking information online.

If it went into an account that you still have, but it’s not one you regularly use or haven’t accessed in a long time, contact your bank for access.

What if it went to a preparer’s bank instead of you?

Depending on the type of account it went to, either the money gets returned to the government and then to you, or the recipient can provide you with the money.

What happened if you didn’t get the money for your child?

If you didn’t get the $500 per child dependent money, you should get the money when you file for your 2020 return.

Source of answer, IRS website: “The Payment in 2020 (meaning the stimulus payment) will not include an additional amount for these children because the Payment in 2020 is based only on information from your 2019 or 2018 tax return. You may claim the child next year for an additional credit (of $500) on your 2020 tax return.”

What happened if it went to a spouse you are divorced from?

If your $1,200 went to an ex-spouse, you need to call your ex and see if they’ll turn over your money to you. If they won’t, you could have two options. You could file a lawsuit in small claims court against your ex to recover that money, or you could wait until you file your 2020 return and claim the money then, but even that’s not clear, because the IRS has not issued guidance on this subject of what options will be available to taxpayers when filing their 2020 returns.

(Your divorce judge doesn’t have the power to deal with the $1,200 stimulus money, only the $500 per child money that went to the wrong parent.)

This is posted on the IRS website, which I think is important:

“For security reasons, the IRS plans to mail a letter about the economic impact payment to the taxpayer’s last known address within 15 days after the payment is paid. The letter will provide information on how the payment was made and how to report any failure to receive the payment. If a taxpayer is unsure they’re receiving a legitimate letter, the IRS urges taxpayers to visit IRS.gov first to protect against scam artists.”

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
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