Millions of people at risk of missing coronavirus stimulus checks, watchdog warns

Updated on

Almost seven months have passed since Congress first passed the $2.2 trillion CARES Act. Still, at least 8.7 million Americans haven’t yet received their coronavirus stimulus checks and risk never seeing the money. A report from a government watchdog claims that inadequate IRS and Treasury Department records are to be blamed for this.

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8.7 million risk losing coronavirus stimulus checks

On Monday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said that millions of Americans are at risk of losing out on the coronavirus stimulus checks.

In its 371-page report, the government watchdog noted that in April, the Treasury Department determined that it does not have any data on 14 million people. These people are those who do not normally file taxes or get federal benefits, but are eligible for the stimulus benefits.

Further, the report noted that the Treasury Department followed the advice and extended the deadline to the end of September to allow those 14 million people to register to get the payment. Through July 31, at least 5.3 million of such people have used the IRS tool to apply for the stimulus payment, the GAO report said.

This means that at least 8.7 million eligible people have not yet gotten the stimulus check. GAO estimates that “potentially millions of individuals” are still “at risk of missing" their stimulus checks. As per the calculation by Forbes, about $10,440,000,000 money is still unclaimed.

As per the report, the Treasury Department and the IRS still do not have “updated information on how many eligible recipients have yet to receive these funds.”

Who else didn’t get the payment?

GAO found that the biggest demographic affected are the people who don’t file taxes. Thus, the IRS doesn’t have information on how much money they make annually. A primary reason why people don’t file taxes is that their gross income is below the threshold needed to file a tax return.

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It’s not that all those who don’t file taxes haven’t gotten the stimulus checks. As per the GAO report, over 26 million people who don't file taxes have gotten the stimulus payment, including about five million who followed the IRS guidelines to register for the payment online.

Apart from the 8.7 million who didn’t get the coronavirus stimulus checks yet, the report found that 1.1 million didn’t get the full payment they were eligible for. Of these 1.1 million, around 355,000 are non-filers with children who didn’t get the $500 dependent payment. Further, it also includes domestic abuse victims, who don’t have access to the bank account in which the checks were deposited, as well as widows who didn’t get the direct payment because their spouse died.

GAO recommends that the IRS and Treasury “update and refine” their estimate on the eligible Americans who have yet to give their information to get the direct payment.

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