IRS to fix stimulus checks problem
Names, Social Security numbers didn't match
ST. LOUIS - The Internal Revenue Service says overdue economic stimulus checks will soon be mailed to about a quarter of a million married couples who had been denied the money because a spouse's married name and Social Security number didn't match.
When a couple marries and a spouse - usually the woman - changes names, the couple is supposed to alert the Social Security Administration. But tens of thousands have failed to do so and were unaware of the consequences until this year, when they didn't cash in on the rebate package enacted in February that resulted in payments to taxpayers of mostly $600-$1,200.
In an interview last month, an IRS spokesman affirmed that stimulus checks would be sent only to those whose names and Social Security numbers matched.
But on Oct. 8, without fanfare, the IRS updated the question-and-answer section on its website to say it will mail economic stimulus payments this month to an additional 260,000 married taxpayers whose names did not match Social Security numbers.
"During the processing of the 2007 returns for these taxpayers, the IRS was able to determine that the person listed on the return actually was the person associated with the SSN," the website reads.
Those people should be getting letters within days telling them how much they'll get. The checks should arrive by the end of the month, according to the IRS.
The IRS blamed itself for the problem, saying married taxpayers whose names and Social Security numbers didn't match "were inadvertently omitted from the initial economic stimulus payments."
"The IRS regrets the inconvenience for these affected taxpayers and will continue to work hard to deliver stimulus payments to qualifying taxpayers," the website reads.
An IRS spokesman declined interview requests, and would not say what prompted the reevaluation. It was also unclear if the current economic woes played a role in the decision as a way of giving a boost to more people.
The problem with the checks affected mostly those who filed tax returns on paper rather than electronically, said Jackie Perlman, senior tax researcher for H&R Block's Tax Institute in Kansas City.
"If you e-file and have a name discrepancy, you will get an immediate rejection," and thus be aware of the need to fix it, Perlman said.