DENVER (KDVR) – A rebounding economy and swelling state treasury take some of the sting out of Colorado’s relatively poor post-pandemic unemployment rates. It seems like the state’s economy, however, missed out on a hefty chunk of spending or saving from stimulus checks.
According to Internal Revenue Service records obtained by FOX31’s Data Desk, Americans refused, paid back or failed to cash 1,315,717 checks of the first-round $1,200 stimulus checks issued under President Trump’s administration at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In total, that amounts to $1.77 billion of unclaimed stimulus cash from that first round. For comparison, construction of the new Las Vegas Raiders NFL stadium cost $1.8 billion.
The Centennial State alone has refused enough stimulus cash to have paid off the damage caused by the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Colorado has 23,555 unclaimed checks from the first stimulus round, totaling $30.75 million.
This is not a standout number of unclaimed checks relative to the rest of the country.
The unclaimed checks and total amount of money are 21st and 22nd highest amounts in the nation, respectively, which are about in line with Colorado’s U.S. population ranking.
Coloradans failed to cash 0.86% of the checks distributed them, which is slightly higher than the national average, which stands at 0.81% of the checks sent.
Americans seemed to refuse checks in roughly equal proportions across the nation.
States with the largest populations naturally had larger amounts of unclaimed checks and unclaimed money. California has the most unclaimed checks with 130,243, followed by Florida with 96,342 and Texas with 96,918. New York and Pennsylvania came next.
Collectively, these five states failed to cash over $650 million in stimulus.
Low population states had the smallest total numbers of uncashed checks. Wyoming had 2,668 uncashed, followed by the District of Columbia, Alaska, Vermont and North Dakota.
However, when you look at the rate of unclaimed checks compared to population things shake out a little different. California and Texas both had low refusal rates, while Pennsylvania had the highest.
Pennsylvania’s refusal rate of 1.17% of stimulus checks uncashed was nearly double Mississippi’s rate of 0.67%, which was the lowest in the nation.
Pennsylvania is a Democratic-voting state and Mississippi a Republican-voting states, but across the board there is not a strong connection between a state’s political affiliation its rate of stimulus check refusal.
The average percentage of refused checks in states that voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election was on par with those that voted for Joe Biden. Trump states refused 0.83% of first round stimulus checks on average, while Biden states refused 0.85%.
Rates of check refusal were fairly evenly spread among the political spectrum.
The ten states with both the highest and lowest percentages of refused checks had similar numbers of red and blue states.
Number of unclaimed stimulus checks by state
|State||Number of unclaimed first round stimulus checks||Total dollar amount||Unclaimed percentage of checks||Unclaimed percentage of stimulus dollars|
|District of Columbia||2,793||$3,520,885||0.85%||0.78%|
But what happens to this money? The Data Desk learned that unclaimed stimulus funds are returned to the federal government.
The funding from the CARES Act voids if physical checks remain uncashed after 12 months. The IRS said it had completed first round checks in May 2020, meaning most of this money will sink back into IRS coffers.