Back in April, in a rush to get COVID-19 stimulus out the door, the IRS sent out 1.1 million checks totaling $1.4 billion. The issue? Every dollar went to a dead person.
Even better, once word got out, it took six weeks to put a stop to the madness.
The mistake happened because the Treasury and a bureau of Fiscal Service (which distributed the payments) don’t have full access to the death records maintained by the Social Security Administration and used by the IRS. Since stimulus payments were determined based on 2018 and 2019 tax returns, Americans who died after filing those returns were likely included as stimulus recipients.
Clearly, one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing.
On top of all that, the IRS had the nerve to ask for the money back, even though there’s no way of enforcing that request. It also provided no direction on how to return the payments.
Surely, they know the dead folks can’t do it themselves, right? Maybe not.
To recap, the federal government has effectively let more than $1 billion slip through the nation’s couch cracks. It’s anybody’s guess on how much of that money comes back.
Is there a worse example of government waste than directly distributing money to dead people?