This finding is part of a large-scale analysis of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by the Office of Government Oversight, an independent congressional nonpartisan agency. The report provides a clearer picture of what critics have called the intricate implementation of the Internal Revenue Service and the Ministry of Finance more than 160 million payments worth $ 269 billion.
In March, Congress passed a massive $ 2 trillion stimulus package called CARES law to cushion the economic blow. coronavirus pandemic for American workers and enterprises.
Eligible Americans received checks, called Economic Impact Payments, based on their tax returns for 2018 or 2019 or by filling out a simple tax return. Individuals earning up to $ 75,000 a year received checks for $ 1,200, and couples making up to $ 150,000 and filing a joint tax return received $ 2,400, plus an additional $ 500 for each relevant child. Payouts were reduced for those who earned more than $ 75,000, with a income limit of $ 99,000 per person or $ 198,000 for couples.
The GAO report said that Treasury officials said that in order to fulfill the mandate of the KARES Act to make payments “as soon as possible,” the Treasury and the IRS sent out the first three batches of payments using previous operating policies and procedures for incentive payments ”that did not turned on with [Social Security Administration] death records as a filter to stop payments to the deceased. “
The GAO also said that the IRS legal adviser “determined that the IRS does not have legal authority to decline payments to those who filed the 2019 return, even if they died at the time of payment,” and advised that the same rules apply to recipients who submitted a 2018 refund of the year.
There was an initial lag when the IRS started sending the first round of payments, and relatives of dead Americans across the country said they received coronavirus payments of assistance on behalf of a loved one. Families initially believed they could keep payments, but the IRS updated his guide in May, to say that people who have died are not eligible for coronavirus assistance and “must be returned to the IRS.”
The GAO report says the IRS does not currently have a plan to notify inappropriate recipients, which includes relatives of nearly 1.1 million dead Americans who received payment as of April 30. The watchdog said the IRS should consider “cost-effective options” to notify inappropriate recipients about how to return the payments, which the IRS agreed to do.
The IRS, the Treasury and the Small Business Administration did not immediately comment on NBC News. Treasury and IRS representatives send NBC News the answers they provided in the GAO report. The SBA also provided a GAO report with comments.
Last month, the Democratic-led House passed the $ 3 trillion HERO Act. another round of direct paymentsbut the Republican-controlled Senate has not yet voted on the bill, as leaders say they want to wait to find out that, if any, additional help is needed.
The GAO report, COVID-19, “Opportunities for Improving the Federal Response and Recovery,” examined the actions of several federal pandemic agencies, from the submission of national virus testing data to the distribution of critical medical supplies, and the allocation of funds and loans.
The GAO also accused the U.S. Small Business Administration of working with the Payroll Protection Program or PPP, which was created in accordance with the Grant Act. direct relief for small businesses among coronavirus pandemic,
Program has ran into criticism to assist unintended recipients, such as large joint stock companies. Many businesses across the country also complained that they either could not take out loans or did not receive sufficient funds to keep their business afloat and their employees on the payroll.
The GAO said the SBA is actively collecting data to show detailed information about loan recipients.
The SBA signaled that they would provide the watchdog agency with PPP data, but first the officials should discuss the protection of the confidential and personal information of the recipients.