Thousands of college-age foreign workers have accidentally received stimulus checks, according to a report.
An “unforeseen glitch” in the U.S. Treasure Department system has contributed to taxpayer dollars being sent to unqualified recipients in other countries, as Politico reports.
The group of recipients — several of whom no longer reside in the United States — received $1,200 stimulus checks designated for qualifying Americans. This follows after errors in tax-filing.
Donna Kepley, president of the Arctic International tax firm, has noted that many of the payments were sent in April.
“We were contacted by a lot of our clients all of a sudden, on the one day when they started hitting their accounts or that the checks started going out, asking what to do,” Kepley said. “And so we had to try to figure out how to return it, which is not easy.”
It has been reported that many of the college-age workers attended a college or university in the United States over the last two years.
A survey of more than 500 collegiate institutions found that 43% of the schools have students who insist they likely received funds in error.
With no clear instruction on how to proceed with the funds, many of the college students are reportedly scrambling to spend the funds before the Internal Revenue Service proceeds to take action to correct the mistake.
However, there are long-term consequences to misfiling. Non-immigrant workers claiming to be United States residents typically receive the standard $12,200 deduction.
Submitting incorrect information or misfilings to receive funds like the stimulus payment could result in a forfeiture of immigration status and the possibility of penalties.
“They don’t think they’ll necessarily ever be caught or they don’t think there’s really that big a problem,” said Kepley.
While some people have returned to their countries, that has not stopped the funds from being funneled to recipients overseas. Many were shocked to see that the funds had been deposited into their accounts while others have expressed caution.
“I never tried to commit fraud or anything,” a student, who is a French citizen and finished the graduate program at the University of Toledo in 2018. “I contacted the IRS to tell them that I’m not in the U.S. anymore and that I should not have received this stimulus check and I wanted to find a way to give the money back.”
Many are waiting and holding the funds in the hope of receiving direction on how to proceed.