When your stimulus money can and can't be taken from you

Some people are struggling to track their stimulus checks. It turns out errors and long wait times are plaguing the IRS, causing another road block for Americans who are struggling.

But there are also reasons why you may not see the money at all. Under the CARES Act, your stimulus check can be garnished to offset certain debt.

When your stimulus payment can be taken from you:

Child support: Even if you are experiencing financial hardship, your stimulus payment can legally be seized if you are behind on child support.

Bank debts: If you owe money to a bank where your stimulus payment is being direct deposited, your payment could be grabbed by the bank.

Private debt collectors: The CARES Act does not prohibit private debt collectors from garnishing stimulus money. That means if you are behind on debt payments and have an outstanding court judgement, you can still be served during the pandemic.

When your stimulus payment cannot be taken from you:

Tax debt: Stimulus checks cannot be seized to offset a tax debt. You have until July 15 to file and pay any balances you owe.

Defaulted student loans: All payments on federal loans are suspended with zero percent interest from now until September 30.

There have been reports online of people who are deceased receiving their stimulus check. According to the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an internal IRS watchdog, there is no clawback provision for stimulus checks sent to a dead person.

That means the agency cannot retrieve the money after it's been handed out.


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