U.S. sent $1.4B in COVID-19 relief payments to dead people, audit finds

U.S. sent $1.4B in COVID-19 relief payments to dead people, audit finds

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 22: The U.S. Capital seen on March 21, 2019 in Washington, DC. Special counsel Robert Mueller has delivered his report on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election to Attorney General William Barr.

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A government watchdog says nearly 1.1 million relief payments totalling some $1.4 billion went to dead people in the government’s coronavirus aid program.

More than 130 million so-called economic impact payments 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 a report published Thursday on the government programs.

The errors occurred mainly because of a lag in reporting data on who is deceased – a lapse that tax experts say is almost inevitable.

The IRS didn’t use death records to prevent payments to deceased individuals for the first three batches of payments because of the legal interpretation the agency was operating under, the GAO report says.

The IRS asked in May for the money back from the deceased taxpayers’ survivors. Some legal experts have said the government may not have the legal authority to require that it be returned.

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