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Does anyone know how to proceed and the consequences of it? What will happen with my future and current visa status if they find out? I mean, can they actually track it?

I filled 2020 tax return 2 weeks ago using the 1040 form instead of 1040-NR one and got my tax return with the stimulus check in it. It was direct deposit, and I am not currently living in the US. I tried to filled today a 1040-X but its not available for the 2020 tax season yet. I am afraid it could jeopardize my future visa status and when/if I have to do taxes again in the future if for some reason I if/when go back to live in the US.

P.S: I actually didn't know there was different forms since it was my first time doing taxes. I went to the IRS website and went for the options they give us to fill the forms for free, and I picked TurboTax because it seemed the best option. The amount I got seemed wrong and I went to google it and found out about 1040 vs 1040-NR and stimulus check.

I know that it is happening even with people that haven't even filled taxes (https://www.npr.org/2020/11/30/938902523/irs-says-its-own-error-sent-1-200-stimulus-checks-to-non-americans-overseas)

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  • Why do you think you were a nonresident alien for 2020? – user102008 Mar 14 at 20:32
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    "I tried to filled today a 1040-X but its not available for the 2020 tax season yet." You can take the latest 1040-X form and manually write "2020" for the tax year, as the form allows writing a tax year other than those listed. – user102008 Mar 14 at 20:33
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The amount that you just received via direct deposit could be one of two things:

First, it could be your actual tax refund. You would know if it is this because the amount you received should be the amount that was on the bottom of your Form 1040 (Line 35a). Yes, if you filed Form 1040 when you should have filed Form 1040-NR, you may have calculated too large of a tax refund, because non-residents are not eligible for some of the tax credits, especially the stimulus Recovery Rebate Credit. You will certainly need to correct this. To do so, you file an amended return on Form 1040-X. As was noted in the comments, you can do this even if "2020" isn't listed as an option at the top by writing in "2020" in the space provided. If you find the right tax software, it should be able to help you out with that process, and you'll need to send in whatever the difference between the refund you got and the refund you were supposed to get.

Instead of your tax refund, it could be the third round of stimulus, which started appearing in bank accounts via direct deposit this past week. The amount of this is $1400 per person in your household (or more or less depending on certain things). If the amount you received does not match what you had on your tax return, it was probably this. If so, I can't answer whether or not you will get in trouble if you keep it, or whether or not they will ever come asking for it back. But the IRS does have an answer to the question on how to return it:

Q I1. What should I do to return an Economic Impact Payment (EIP) that was received as a direct deposit or a paper check? (updated June 9, 2020)

A1. You should return the payment as described below....

If the payment was a paper check and you have cashed it, or if the payment was a direct deposit:

  1. Submit a personal check, money order, etc., immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below.
  2. Write on the check/money order made payable to “U.S. Treasury” and write 2020EIP, and the taxpayer identification number (social security number, or individual taxpayer identification number) of the recipient of the check.
  3. Include a brief explanation of the reason for returning the EIP.

The page then includes a list of different mailing addresses to send the returned payment, based on your location. It looks like if you live in a foreign country, you send your payment to the Austin, Texas location.

A note at the top of the page says that the information is for the first stimulus payment, but I would guess that the procedure would be the same for the second and third stimulus payments. Instead of writing "2020EIP" on the payment, you should probably write "2021EIP" on it.

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