IRS Inadvertently Sends Stimulus Payments to Foreign Workers

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Internal Revenue Service – Oops Our Bad 

Cristal M Clark 

While many are still waiting on those $1,200 stimulus payments the United States Government said they sent, some who aren’t even eligible for one are in fact receiving one. Turns out the IRS made a slight error and started sending payments out to Thousands of foreign workers which were meant for US workers only and to make matters worse, the IRS is scrambling to get those payments back, well truthfully they are trying to figure out how to get the payments back.

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What would you do if the IRS inadvertently sent you money you should not have received especially right now? That’s right, you’d be out spending it, just like those that are overseas. 

Those that received the stimulus funds are scrambling to spend it before the IRS can do anything to try to retrieve it. 

Economic Stimulus Package Tax Rebate Checks Printed

How did this happen you ask? Well, due to an unforeseen glitch that funneled taxpayer dollars to other countries, according to tax consultants and the recipients themselves, that’s how that happened. 

College students who worked in the US and  who spent time in the U.S. in the last two years, some of whom returned home long before the coronavirus pandemic have been surprised to find $1,200 checks deposited into their bank accounts. College students? The IRS is not getting anything back from them but good luck trying. There were 1.1 million foreign students in the U.S. last year according to the Institute of International Education.

The error stems from a tax-filing blunder, particularly for those on F-1 student and J-1 exchange visas. These workers study at US universities and work summer jobs in the US, often turn to TurboTax and other e-filing systems without knowing that the systems are designed only for U.S. residents. So to the IRS they are US citizens, which is a problem with the software by the way, not the IRS or the students. 

To make matters worse, many temporary foreign workers each year file the wrong tax forms, something the IRS rarely catches the error because nonimmigrant workers’ Social Security numbers have the same number of digits as those of U.S. citizens, and therefore appear to be identical so they received US stimulus money.

According to industry insiders, normally the error doesn’t much matter, but this year it’s causing the IRS to think certain foreign workers are eligible for one-time stimulus payments. The glitch affects both workers in the U.S. and those who recently left the country.

In a year where every penny counts let’s just hope that the IRS starts looking at errors like this and starts making them matter, we wouldn’t want to continue to send out erroneous monies to foreigners who shouldn’t be receiving them moving forward would we? 

Cristal M Clark

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