What do I do if I am separated or divorced and my stimulus check went to my spouse?

By Christine Tran, 2020 Get It Back Campaign Intern

Currently, the IRS does not have a process in place to resolve this issue. If you are eligible for a stimulus check and the IRS issued your payment to your spouse, the approach may differ depending on your specific situation, including whether the stimulus check was based upon a 2018 or 2019 federal tax return. This is a complex matter that should be discussed with a tax professional.

If your stimulus check was used to pay for your spouse’s past-due child support, this is a different issue. Refer to question D2 in the IRS Economic Impact Payment Information Center for further guidance.

Two things you can do to help get your stimulus check

Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick solution. Here are two suggestions to help you get your stimulus check if it was issued to your spouse.

1. Get help from a tax professional

A tax professional or tax clinic is the best resource to turn to. A tax professional will ask questions and determine next steps based on your personal situation. For example, if there are eligible dependents involved, a tax professional can help determine how to navigate the question of who gets the additional $500 stimulus payment. The following resources may offer free or low-cost professional guidance on next steps to take:

  • Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC): LITCs are programs at law schools, accounting schools, or legal services offices that provide low-cost assistance and legal representation for eligible taxpayers who are in disputes with the IRS.
  • Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS): TAS is an independent organization within the IRS that can help people navigate through their tax problems and find solutions. Contact your local office.
  • Community Legal Aid: Local legal aid services can provide free or low-cost legal help for people with tax problems.

2. Request a refund trace and document everything

Document everything that you are doing as proof that you did not receive your stimulus check. For example, you can request a refund trace (Form 3911) to show that the stimulus check went to your  spouse’s account or was cashed by your spouse. Document your calls to the IRS EIP helpline and your communication with tax professionals.

If the IRS develops procedures to help address this issue, you will have proof that you did not receive your stimulus payment and could perhaps request a replacement payment from the IRS. Document everything in addition to contacting a tax professional or tax clinic.


Law Help: Locate free or low-cost legal aid in your area. Select your state then find information about your legal rights by topic, such as family, divorce, and children.

Women’s Law: Search by state to identify domestic violence advocates,  shelters, legal assistance organizations, courthouse locations to file a protection order, and sheriff departments.

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