Incomplete government records could have resulted in around 8.7 million Americans miss $1,200 payments, according to a government watchdog, the Associated Press reported Monday (Sept. 21).
The payments, which were first sent out in March as part of the multi-trillion CARES Act, were intended to help buoy people through an unprecedented wave of job losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The latest Government Accountability Office (GAO) report also called for better guidance on how to reopen schools.
The GAO did note that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) implemented several recommendations to make sure people got the payments, including extended deadlines for those who hadn’t filed an income tax return until Sept. 30.
However, the GAO still said the IRS had to update the information on how many people hadn’t seen their money yet. The lack of that information “could hinder outreach efforts and place potentially millions of individuals at risk of missing their payment,” according to the AP.
The IRS responded by saying it had made grand overtures to those who could have been missed, including encouraging eligible people to file tax returns before the Oct. 15 deadline and distributing materials in over 35 languages to help them reach as many people as possible. The agency said those efforts had already helped find about 7 million who’d missed their financial aid previously, the AP reported.
The efforts for a future stimulus plan have been ongoing for months now, with the most recent effort being Sept. 15 by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, a $1.5 trillion plan that includes more direct stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment aid, along with more Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding.
As to whether that plan — or whatever plan is eventually passed — will help stimulate the economy, particularly in time for the holiday season, PYMNTS reports there's some uncertainty there. Reports show that only 15 percent of respondents to surveys said they actually spent their stimulus funds, while many smaller businesses were uncertain of surviving the continued economic fluctuations.