IRS deposits stimulus check for deceased San Francisco woman, her husband wonders what to do next

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For almost two years San Francisco resident Robert Lentz has been mourning his wife's death. On Wednesday he was reminded of her passing by the IRS.

"It's one of those things that you don't expect it and it came out of nowhere," said Lentz

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According to the U.S Treasury Department, over 80 million Americans are projected to receive their stimulus checks this week. Jacqueline Tokos Lentz was part of that group, even though she passed away in 2018 after a three-year battle with brain cancer.

"Revisiting that and having to think about if it was an error and having to repaid it or give it back? It's just not something I'm looking forward to," said Lentz.

Robert Lentz is not alone. Across the country tax experts are receiving phone calls from people whose family members have passed away and they too are receiving checks.

San Jose State University's graduate tax program professor & director, Annette Nellen recommends for families to hang on to the stimulus checks and wait for the IRS to specify what to do.

"It's possible that it will be return in the 2020 tax return," said professor Nellen.

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Our 7 On Your Side team spoke to an IRS spokesperson who said they're still looking for answers but for now they are sending stimulus checks to the last account they have on file.

"It's part of the 2020 recovery payment, so it is intended to be for 2020. It's built into the law that they will be able to use the 2019 data for calculating it," said Professor Nellen.

According to professor Nellen if the person died before their spouse filed their 2019 returns then the IRS is unaware.

Robert Lentz doesn't want to keep the check and was hoping to donate the money in Jaqueline's name.

"I would want to donate it forebrain cancer research and also splitting it with the COVID-19 relief," said Lentz.

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