Congress so far has approved three rounds of stimulus checks, and demand is growing for at least one more round. However, many haven’t yet claimed their stimulus checks from the first round, which was approved in March 2020. According to data from the IRS obtained by FOX31’s Data Desk, there are more than 1.3 million unclaimed coronavirus stimulus checks with the agency.
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State-wise data on unclaimed coronavirus stimulus checks
Congress approved the first round of stimulus checks in March 2020, sending up to $1,200 to individuals. These checks proved to be a lifeline for many who were unable to meet their basic needs at the time of the pandemic.
However, many either refused the money, paid it back or failed to cash their federal stimulus checks. According to the IRS, the more than 1.3 million unclaimed checks from the first round amount to $1.77 billion.
The state-wise breakdown of the data showed that Colorado has 23,555 unclaimed checks, amounting to $30.75 million. This means 0.86% of the Coloradans failed to cash the checks distributed to them. This number is slightly more than the national average of 0.81%.
As can be expected, the states with higher populations had a larger number of unclaimed checks and amount of unclaimed money. For instance, California has the highest number of unclaimed checks with 130,243.
Florida is next with 96,342 unclaimed checks, followed by Texas with 96,918, and then New York and Pennsylvania. Together, these five states account for more than $650 million in unclaimed stimulus money.
Similarly, states with the lowest populations had a smaller number of unclaimed checks. For instance, Wyoming had 2,668 unclaimed stimulus checks, followed by the District of Columbia, Alaska, Vermont and North Dakota.
Did political affiliation have any connection to refusal rate?
If we compare the percentage of unclaimed checks in relation to the population, there were a few surprises. For instance, both California and Texas had low refusal rates, but the refusal rate for Pennsylvania was on the higher side.
The refusal rate for Pennsylvania was 1.17%, the highest among all the states. Mississippi, with 0.67%, had the lowest refusal rate. A point to note is that Pennsylvania is usually a Democratic-voting state, while Mississippi is a Republican-voting state. On the other hand, Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the country, which could be a factor in its low refusal rate.
There is no other evidence or data to suggest that Pennsylvania’s political affiliation impacted its refusal rate for stimulus checks. For instance, the average refusal rate among Trump states was 0.83%, while for Biden states, it was 0.85%. In fact, the top ten states with the highest and lowest refusal rates had similar numbers of red and blue states.
These unclaimed checks will go back to the federal government. Based on the provisions of the CARES Act, any physical check uncashed after 12 months is voided.