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The US mistakenly sent US $ 1.4 billion for COVID-19 support to 1 million people who died

The US mistakenly sent US $ 1.4 billion for COVID-19 support to 1 million people who died

The Department of Finance and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mistakenly sent US $ 1.4 billion, including nearly 1.1 million checks and cash payments, to US citizens who were not eligible for assistance. 

The incident was discovered through the federal government's COVID-19 (CARES Act) bailout expense test report, conducted by the federal government in March and April by the Office of Government Accountability (GAO).

To date, the IRS has made more than 160 payments worth nearly $ 270 billion to those who need Covid-19.

Gao said the $ 1.4 billion expenditures were mistakenly sent when the Ministry of Finance and the IRS urgently disbursed about $ 160 million of the $ 269 billion approved in March.

Partly due to the fact that the IRS has access to a comprehensive list of death notices from social security agencies, the Ministry of Finance and the Department of Financial Services of this ministry are also in charge of money transfers, without access to that list.

In the early days when the IRS was busy preparing to send millions of payments, the tax bureau ignored the established protocols, refused to use death records and did not communicate clearly with the Ministry of Finance.

The IRS did not use death records maintained by the US Social Security Administration for the first three relief payments. This payment accounts for 72% of the amount distributed so far.

In 2013, the IRS developed a process that required the use of death records to prevent improper payments to the dead, but ignored those controls on the Covid-19 relief package. 

Initially, the IRS was not clear whether the law would allow them to deny relief payments to the dead. At the same time, the Ministry of Finance "did not detect payments that could be transferred to the deceased," according to the GAO report.

Only after the Ministry of Finance discovered that a $ 1.4 billion payment was sent to more than 1 million people had died, did the IRS and its legal counsel make a decision on who had lost by the time the payment was made. Currently not eligible for support packages.

An NPR investigation in May found that US citizens who died in January 2018 received payment checks from the IRS.

The bipartisan lawmakers group asked for answers from the Treasury Department and the IRS about how many Americans died receiving payments and steps the government would take to recover the money.

"While it is important to conduct quick relief, the mistaken payments to the deceased are a huge waste to the government and burden those who receive this invalid money."  
lawmakers say.

The Ministry of Finance also said that payments made to those who lost before receiving the COVID-19 relief payment should be returned to the government. Currently, the IRS has also published instructions for refunding payments on the official website.

In its report, the Office of Government Accountability said the IRS should consider proactively informing those who are not eligible to receive assistance on ways to repay the invalid payments they received.

The GAO also proposed that the National Assembly should allow the Ministry of Finance to have access to the social security authorities' comprehensive list of death lists and request the Ministry of Finance to regularly use the list to minimize these payments. Support payment is not appropriate.

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