Florida Inmates Are Eligible to Receive Stimulus Checks: Court Ruling

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Florida inmates who had received stimulus payments of up to $1,200, will now have the money deposited into their prison accounts, state corrections officials said.

Inmate checks had been returned to the IRS by Florida correctional facilities after the federal agency issued guidelines saying those behind bars were ineligible to receive stimulus checks. 

"The IRS required that incarcerated individuals sent an Economic Impact Payment in error return the fund to the IRS. Funds received for inmates in [Florida Department of Corrections] custody were returned to the IRS,” said Michelle Glady, a department spokeswoman, in a statement obtained by the Tampa Bay Times.

Florida officials based their decision on a recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton of the Northern District of California. Reviewing class-action suits filed by inmates in that state, Hamilton ruled federal stimulus checks could not be withheld solely because someone was incarcerated. 

The Florida Department of Corrections “has reviewed the ruling and any checks received will be deposited into the inmate’s account,” Glady said on Friday.

Internal Revenue Service forms need to claim the stimulus funds are available at prison libraries, Glady added. Inmates have until Nov. 4 to file their forms.

The stimulus checks were part of the federal government's massive financial relief effort to help ease financial burdens on Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Tampa Bay Times reported there are 88,000 people incarcerated in the Florida prison system and many are eligible for stimulus checks.

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