“The checks sent to dead people as of April 30 totaled nearly $1.4 billion, according to the Government Accountability Office”
Government Accountability Report
(CMR) The Trump administration delivered more than a million stimulus payments worth about $1.4 billion to dead people in a rush to pump money into the economy this year, the Government Accountability Office said on Thursday. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress appropriated $2.6 trillion in emergency assistance for people, businesses, the health care system, and state and local governments.
The astonishing findings far superseded what was expected by critics of his administration after it was reported by the Washington Post that the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service disbursed some payments of up to $1,200 each to dead people whilst many in need suffered.
It is being alleged that the The improper payments reflect some of the wasteful government spending that occurred in the wake of the rapid economic stabilization effort that was undertaken after Congress passed a $2.6 trillion bailout package in March.
“The agencies faced difficulties delivering payments to some individuals, and faced additional risks related to making improper payments to ineligible individuals, such as decedents, and fraud,” the report said.
Normally the I.R.S typically uses death records maintained by the Social Security Administration to prevent improper payments but this did not occur for the first three batches of stimulus payments that were made.
Treasury and the I.R.S. “did not use the death records to stop payments to deceased individuals for the first three batches of payments” because of a legal interpretation of the legislation authorizing the payments. I.R.S. lawyers “determined that I.R.S. did not have the legal authority to deny payments to those who filed a return for 2019, even if they were deceased at the time of payment,” the report found.
The G.A.O. recommended that the I.R.S. find ways to notify ineligible recipients of the payments how to return them, though it did not explain how that would work with regard to those who are deceased. It also suggested that Congress ensure that the Treasury and its Bureau of the Fiscal Service, which distributed the payments, gain full access to the Social Security Administration’s full set of death records to help prevent money from being paid to the deceased.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in April that the heirs of the deceased who received stimulus money should give the funds back.
In its report, the G.A.O. also warned that the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program was vulnerable to fraud because the Small Business Administration is relying on borrower certifications to determine if the loans are needed and how they are being used.