More stimulus checks on way as IRS vows fix

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.

On Oct. 8, without fanfare, the IRS updated the question-and-answer section on its Web site to say it will mail economic stimulus payments this month to an additional 260,000 married taxpayers whose names did not match the numbers.

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 news was welcomed by Sam and Elaine Vilardo, both 51, of Sinking Spring, Pa. After the couple married in 2001, she failed to register her name change with the Social Security Administration. When they called the IRS several months ago, they were told they'd have to wait until next year for the stimulus money because of that oversight.

Not anymore.

“It's great news,” Sam Vilardo said Monday. “We've already spent the money, so we might as well get the check.”

Vilardo blamed procrastination for failing to get his wife's name change registered.

“After you get married you have all those paper changes,” said Vilardo, a mechanical machine designer at a steel company. “You just drop the ball.”

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.

The system works differently for paper returns, Perlman said. If the name and Social Security number don't match, the paper return is stamped “invalid,” but is accepted. And the taxpayer isn't informed.