Nearly 1.1 million coronavirus relief payments totaling some $1.4 billion went to dead people, said Gene Dodaro, head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
Watch the hearing in the player above.
Legal and political issues hang over the misdirected taxpayer funds, the latest example of errors in massive aid being dispensed at crisis speed.
As of May 31, about 160 million so-called economic impact payments totaling $269 billion were sent to taxpayers as part of the $2.4 trillion coronavirus relief package enacted in March. The Government Accountability Office, Congress’ auditing arm, cited the number of erroneous payments to deceased taxpayers in its report on the government programs.
During a House hearing for the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Friday, Dodaro said his sister received a stimulus check for their deceased mother, which they returned. Dodaro said since news of the error was released Thursday some people have asked how they can return the money.
Dodaro also said he’s suggested the IRS take a “proactive approach” in trying to get the money back.
The relief payments were made to taxpayers based on the information filed on their 2019 or 2018 taxes. But it is considered a rebate on 2020 taxes. The government used the previous tax forms to help speed along payments to the public to offset some of the economic devastation from the coronavirus pandemic.
But some people who filed those taxes may no longer be alive. Those payments are sent to an heir or executor of their estate. If the payment is based off a final tax return completed after their death, an economic impact payment check may even denote, next to that person’s name, that the individual is deceased.