More than 1 million people who died received coronavirus stimulation tests this year, according to a report by a government surveillance agency.
Payments to nearly 1.1 million people totaled $ 1.4 billion, the Government Accountability Office revealed Thursday.
Treasury Department officials said the CARES Act in late March ordered the money to be distributed “as quickly as possible,” the report says.
The disclosure follows anecdotal reports of deceased people receiving stimulus checks, and comes as Congress begins to consider a new coronavirus package that may include more direct payments.
The CARES Act sought to mitigate the economic devastation of the pandemic by sending checks of up to $ 1,200 to taxpayers, with an additional $ 500 per dependent child. The bill also gave a federal boost of $ 600 a week to unemployment insurance.
According to the GAO report, the Treasury Department and the IRS did not decide to suspend the dead until May, when 72 percent of the payments were already issued.
“The Treasury and the IRS, in consultation with an attorney, determined that a person is not entitled to receive a payment if they died from the date the payment is due,” the report says.
The stimulus money went to people who filed 2018 or 2019 tax returns. Much of it was transferred electronically to bank accounts.
The report notes that the IRS posted on its website on May 6 that the money sent to the deceased should be returned, but that “the IRS does not currently plan to take additional steps to notify ineligible recipients of how to return payments. “
The GAO says that the IRS should “consider cost-effective options for notifying ineligible recipients on how to return payments” and that Congress should consider allowing the Treasury Department to access Social Security death records to make sure that dead don’t get any more checks.
This week, President Trump said in an interview that he supports the issuance of another round of stimulus checks as part of a “very generous” bill. House Democrats also support the idea and in May passed a bill that would authorize more checks.