Almost $1.4 Billion In Coronavirus Relief Payments Sent To Dead People

Daniel Fowler
June 27, 2020

The head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a House panel on Friday that the Internal Revenue Service knew it was sending out stimulus payments to dead people.

Thursday's GAO report said there's "a significant risk" of fraud with the forgivable PPP loan program because it had limited safeguards. As of May 31, the GAO found that the Treasury Department had issued 160.4 million payments totaling $269.3 billion, "including payments to more than a million deceased individuals".

According to the report, the mixup happened because the Treasury Department and its Bureau of the Fiscal Service - which distributed the payments - do not have full access to the death records maintained by the Social Security Administration and used by the IRS.

Part of the problem, said the GAO, was a lack of communication between government agencies to confirm taxpayers' identities and basic eligibility for the payments, such as, for example, being now alive. They've discussed $450 "Back-to-Work Bonuses" and payroll tax deductions among other actions that they believe would get the economy moving again.

Some large, publicly-traded companies have returned loans worth tens of millions of dollars after a public backlash.

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin angered members of Congress recently when he indicated in testimony before the Senate Small Business Committee that the administration may not disclose the names of those who took out loans.

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The German coach had signed a new contract on December 2019 with the English football club to head the team until 2024. Chelsea meanwhile look the more likely to finish third behind champions Liverpool , and Manchester City .

The GAO singled out the the agency for withholding data it needed to conduct oversight.

"It is unfortunate that the public will have waited more than four months since the enactment of the CARES Act for access to comprehensive obligation and expenditure information about the programs funded through these relief laws", GAO said.

The report said that if a dead person receives a payment, that payment is supposed to be returned, though it provides no instructions on how the check can be sent back. It also advised "discretion" provided for in the CARES Act (which authorized the payments) to apply the same set of rules to those who filed a 2018 return but not one in 2019.

While the legislation was being debated in Congress, the IRS raised concerns about the possibility that payments might be sent to people who had filed a tax return but then died, but these concerns were not adequately addressed in the bill's final language, and IRS legal counsel issued a finding that they had no legal authority to deny payments.

Dodaro recommended that the IRS look at ways to to contact people who received these payments to try to recoup the money.

The fact that there are people who are making more with the $600 bonus to unemployment checks than they would at their jobs is another thing Congress is considering about another stimulus package.

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