According to numerous anecdotal reports, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) incorrectly sent $1,200 stimulus checks recently to thousands of foreign workers, many living outside of the United States. Those receiving the checks appear to be college-age workers who had been in the United States some time over the last two years, particularly those on F-1 and J-1 student and exchange visitor visas. News reports note that the error appears to relate to many such students filing tax returns via TurboTax or other e-filing systems and completing the 1040 instead of the 1040-NR form, not realizing that those forms are intended only for U.S. residents. The IRS then used those records to issue the checks.
Some are trying to return the money, fearing the potential consequences if they do not, but they are finding it difficult to contact the IRS. The University of Toledo told students they could file an amended tax return to send back the checks.