Millions of Americans are at risk of not being able to receive the first batch $1,200 stimulus checks because of incomplete government records.
The United States Congress' auditing unit, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) announced that at least 8.7 million U.S. citizens who are eligible to receive the direct payments have not yet received them due to partial records with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Treasury Department.
Incomplete government records
According to The Sun, the GAO also urged the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to provide more assistance to local districts on safety measures that would allow them to reopen schools in their area while minimizing risks, detailed in a Monday report.
The GAO said that while the IRS successfully implemented several of its recommendations placed in a June report, more work needs to be conducted because the agency now has the responsibility of handling the massive $2.6 trillion aid fund that Congress passed previously.
The agency also encouraged the IRS to provide the $1,200 stimulus checks to eligible individuals who file their tax returns through the end of September.
However, the GAO said the main problem is that the Treasury Department and the IRS failed to completely update all of its information on the number of eligible Americans that have not yet been given their direct payments.
In a report, the GAO said that the lack of complete records could cripple the outreach efforts and place millions of Americans at risk of not being able to get their $1,200 stimulus checks.
In its April report, the GAO said that an estimated 30 million U.S. citizens, 16 million of which on Social Security and 14 million who do not commonly file tax returns, were eligible to receive the direct payments but have not yet received their checks.
Eligibility for the stimulus checks
The IRS reported that about 5.3 million Americans had used an online IRS tool that aimed to assist nonfilers to receive their direct payments as of July 31, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. The statistics suggest that about 8.7 million people have not yet received their $1,200 stimulus checks despite being eligible for the payments.
The report also said that officials from the Treasury Department did not notify the GAO whether or not they agreed to implement the recommendations to improve the eligibility lists. However, the agency told the GAO it was currently working on notifying about 9 million Americans that they are eligible for the direct payments.
The $1,200 stimulus checks were given out amid the economic devastation the coronavirus pandemic brought to the United States, leaving millions of Americans without jobs to provide for their families.
The IRS issued the direct payments through direct deposit, paper checks, and debit cards. Congress estimated the total cost to be about $282 billion.
All adults that earned up to an annual $75,000 in adjusted gross income were eligible to receive their direct payments. However, the amount slowly but consistently decreased for people who were earning more. The legislation also provided up to $500 for every eligible dependent in the family.
Another issue the GAO faced is that about 1.6 billion worth of stimulus money was sent to deceased people. Several officials from the Treasury Department revealed that it had recovered about 70 percent of the misdistributed funds.