CARMEL — The state of Indiana is sending Automatic Taxpayer Refund checks to deceased people, leaving some families unsure about what to do with them.
Judy Mohler of Carmel lost her father, Richard Macy, in August of 2020.
“He was 96 and had a good life,” Mohler said.
Mohler received a paper check from the state of Indiana in her father’s name for $325—that’s both of the Automatic Taxpayer Refund payments combined.
"It came in his name, and it doesn't say estate,” Mohler said. “It doesn't say deceased.”
The state distributed $125 back in the spring and is currently issuing $200 payments to millions of Indiana taxpayers.
Mohler said she tried calling the Indiana Department of Revenue but couldn’t get a live person.
“I thought I could get someone and what happens is you get the same recording everywhere you go,” Mohler said.
So, Mohler contacted WRTV Investigates asking what she should do with the $325 check in her father’s name.
"It still doesn't seem right because he's deceased,” Mohler said. “We were not going to cash this check until we find out for sure."
WRTV Investigates reached out to the Indiana Department of Revenue.
They confirmed they are sending out checks to deceased taxpayers if they filed a tax return for the 2020 tax year and died after Jan. 1, 2020.
The Indiana Department of Revenue could not tell us how many checks have been sent to deceased people.
“Refunds are administered to those who filed an Indiana resident tax return for the 2020 tax year, so customers who died after January 1, 2020 but meet other eligibility requirements will receive ATRs according to the information DOR has on file,” a statement from the Indiana Department of Revenue read. “DOR doesn’t have information to identify all of the deceased individuals, so it’s not possible to provide any data on that population.”
The state emphasizes they handle Automatic Taxpayer Refund payments for deceased people the same way they handle normal tax refunds.
“If an individual passes away, their estate is entitled to any refund due to that individual,” a statement from DOR read.
Here’s what you can do if you receive a check for a deceased loved one.
If a check is issued to a taxpayer who is deceased, the individual’s estate or surviving heir must complete a Distributee’s Affidavit for Distribution of Estates (State Form 49377) and mail it with the check they received to Auditor of State's office.
Make sure to include a copy of the Death Certificate.
Completed and notarized forms can be mailed to the Indiana Auditor of State at 200 West Washington Street, Room 240, Indianapolis, IN 46204. You can contact them directly at Comments@AUDITOR.IN.GOV with any questions regarding this process.
Mohler was appreciative WRTV Investigates found her answers to her questions.
“Thank you so much,” Mohler said. “Our fear was we just didn't want to do anything inappropriate."
Keep in mind, this is completely different than how families were told to handle federal stimulus checks for deceased loved ones.
In most cases, families had to void federal stimulus checks and send the money back to the IRS.
The Indiana Department of Revenue is asking taxpayers to please allow until Nov. 1 to receive your check or direct deposit.
In fact, they're asking people to not contact the agency until Nov. 1 regarding the Automatic Taxpayer Refunds.
The DOR also points out that taxpayers who were not eligible for the $125 Automatic Taxpayer Refund are eligible for the $200 ATR if the received Social Security benefits and are not claimed as a dependent on another person’s state tax return.
Instead of a direct refund, these taxpayers will need to claim the ATR as a tax credit when filing their taxes next year, even if they don’t normally file a state tax return due to low income.
DOR will have more information on how to claim the credit early next year, an agency spokesperson told WRTV.
You can subscribe to the ATR information webpage updates: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/INDOR/subscribers/new [public.govdelivery.com].
If you’re having a consumer issue or a problem with a government agency, you can reach the WRTV Investigates team at Investigates@wrtv.com.