Pandemic stimulus payments totaling almost $1.4 billion went to dead people as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Treasury Department rushed to send out $269 billion in funds, according to a Thursday (June 25) U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.
The government watchdog noted that the volume of economic impact payments that were distributed to deceased people, who are not eligible for them, showed the importance of continuing to harness protections in offering government assistance to individuals.
The GAO noted that the IRS had access to the complete set of death records belonging to the Social Security Administration. However, it pointed out that the Treasury, along with the Bureau of Fiscal Service that sends out the payments, lacks that access.
As a result, the GAO “recommends that Congress provide Treasury with access to the Social Security Administration’s full set of death records, and require that Treasury consistently use it to help reduce similar types of improper payments.”
It also recommended that the IRS “consider cost-effective options for notifying ineligible recipients [of] how to return payments.”
In May, news surfaced that House Democrats, who hoped to send out a second wave of $1,200 stimulus checks to Americans, were encountering opposition from their own party members in the Senate.
“I’d like to take a look at all that aid we provided and get good economic information on the value for that, from the point of view of our economy but more importantly in fairness to people who are really hurt,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), who is a Senate Finance Committee member, per reports at the time.
The legislator said the government should turn its attention to households that have been most impacted by the pandemic’s economic effects instead of providing all taxpayers with another set of checks.
As reported earlier this month, the newest pandemic stimulus package will reportedly have to wait until July.
The House of Representatives and the Senate are anticipated to return to Capitol Hill on July 21, which is less than two weeks prior to the time that certain CARES Act programs are scheduled to run out.