More than one million deceased Americans received stimulus payments

Published: Jun. 25, 2020 at 7:52 PM CDT
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The government has issued billions of dollars in stimulus checks to Americans, but a new U.S. Government Accountability Office report shows some of those went to accounts that should have been closed.

More than a million deceased people received a payment, amounting to more than a billion dollars in stimulus payments.

The report shows payments were sent to those who died after filing their 2018 or 2019 tax returns.

The Internal Revenue Service had bypassed their death records process to send checks out as rapidly as possible.

Tax professionals said that couldn't happen at the state level, at least when it refers to tax returns.

“If they've filed electronically in the last few months and there's a bank account, we're reasonably assuming that they're owed this and we do other fraud checks to make sure it isn't somebody trying to fraudulently claim a refund...we have many different parameters to make sure that doesn't happen,” said State Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger.

Rauschenberger said if someone has filed taxes and subsequently died, there are procedures in place to ensure that money gets into the right hands.

However, the stimulus checks, as a federal program, doesn't have that safeguard in place.

In May, the IRS said checks made out to deceased people needed to be returned, but no additional steps to recovering the payments have been made.