Dead Folks Out Here Living: Treasury Sent $1.4 Billion in Stimulus Payments to People Who Are No Longer With Us

Image for article titled Dead Folks Out Here Living: Treasury Sent $1.4 Billion in Stimulus Payments to People Who Are No Longer With Us
Photo: Brendan Smialowski (Getty Images)

Well, this is awkward.

A government watchdog group has found that more than a million Americans who have left the Earth and their respective banking accounts have received COVID-19 stimulus payments, according to a report (pdf) released to Congress, Thursday.


NBC News reports that the Government Accountability Office, which is an independent nonpartisan congressional agency, found the yuge fuckup of the ham-fisted rollout to shovel money to big businesses, which included some 160 million payments worth $269 billion as part of the CARES Act. The idea was that because the coronavirus came through and shut shit down, business and American workers needed some money to make it until things mellowed out.

From NBC News:

Eligible Americans received checks, called Economic Impact Payments, based on their 2018 or 2019 income tax returns, or by filling out a simple tax return. Individuals making up to $75,000 a year received checks for $1,200 and couples making up to $150,000 and filing a joint tax return received $2,400, with an additional $500 per qualifying child. The payments decreased for those making more than $75,000, with an income cap of $99,000 per individual or $198,000 for couples.

GAO’s report said Treasury officials said that, to meet the CARES Act’s mandate to deliver payments as “rapidly as possible,” Treasury and the IRS sent out the first three batches of payments using previous operational policies and procedures for stimulus payments “which did not include using [Social Security Administration] death records as a filter to halt payments to decedents.”

GAO also reported that IRS’ legal counsel had “determined that the IRS did not have the legal authority to deny payments to those who filed a return for 2019, even if they were deceased at the time of payment,” and had advised applying the same rules to recipients who had filed a 2018 return.

Since the IRS was in a rush to get payments to the people, it didn’t want to let a small thing like being dead slow up the process. So relatives of the deceased received checks in their dearly departed loved ones names. Initially, families thought they could keep the checks, but, of course, the IRS “updated its guidance in May to say that people who have died do not qualify for the coronavirus relief payments and “should be returned to the IRS.”

As it stands dead people have received more money than Black-owned businesses, but that’s the quiet part we aren’t supposed to say out loud.



Meanwhile I can name three people I know personally who are very much alive who were supposed to get stimulus checks and as yet, have not, and a bunch of others who spend their days (like, all the livelong day) trying to get through to unemployment so they can get their benefits.