I am a non-resident alien who working in the US. I received the CARES payment ($1200) of the COVID 19 by direct deposit from IRS, while I know that as a non-resident, I am not eligible to receive. This is because I filed the incorrect 1040 tax form to IRS before instead of the 1040NR for non-residents and have not filed the amended form yet. I understand that I must return this payment to IRS. I found the way to return here https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc161. However, during the COVID-19 time, I could not call to IRS as stated in the post. So what should I do now? Thank you.
Although the mentioned page -- https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc161 -- is about erroneous tax refunds, it seems like a great place to start.
As recently as this morning, the IRS's telephone and local assistance page indicated that while local offices were closed, live phone assistance was still available. But that is no longer the case.
Telephone Assistance: IRS live phone assistance is not available at this time. Please look for help first here on IRS.gov.
two three options.
Option 1. Wait
Wait until the IRS phone lines open back up, and then go through the steps from the tc161 page.
- Contact the Automated Clearing House (ACH) department of the bank/financial institution where the direct deposit was received and have them return the refund to the IRS.
- Call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 (individual) or 800-829-4933 (business) to explain why the direct deposit is being returned.
- Interest may accrue on the erroneous refund.
(Because the page is about refunds, item three indicates that interest may apply to erroneous tax refunds. But it is not clear if interest applies to erroneous stimulus payments.)
Option 2. Step 1 now, Step 2 later
Follow step 1 above right now to ensure that the money goes back as soon as possible, to avoid or minimize any interest. Follow step 2 as soon as the IRS phone lines open back up.
According to a Kiplinger article, the IRS will also send you a paper confirmation.
However, the IRS is legally required to send you a notice within 15 days of mailing your check (or directly depositing the money into your bank account) to let you know the method of payment, the amount of payment, and an IRS phone number to call if you didn't receive your payment. So, once you receive the notice, you can call to let the IRS know the amount of your check is wrong. You'll just have to sit tight until then, though.
The IRS will mail the notice to your last known address it has on file. If you have recently moved, you should file a Form 8822 with the IRS and a change of address notice with the U.S. Postal Service right away so that the notice is sent to your new address.
That notice might include additional phone numbers that are not shut down, or it might contain alternative ways to contact the IRS about erroneous stimulus payments. So you could also wait for that paperwork to arrive. Or you could do step 1 now and use that paperwork for an alternative point of contact for step 2 when it arrives.
Option 3. You might be able to keep it!
According to this MarketWatch article:
The statutory language in the CARES Act that set the whole EIP scheme in motion says that anybody who gets more money than they are actually entitled to can keep the excess.
I haven't found a primary source for that yet, but if it is true, it could mean that you could keep the payment that you have already received. I imagine the IRS would challenge you if they believed that your mistaken payment was the result of fraud. But if it was an honest mistake, the MarketWatch article makes me think you can keep it.