A government watchdog says nearly 1.1 million relief payments totalling some 1.4 billion US dollars (£1.1 billion) went to dead people in the government’s coronavirus aid programme.
More than 130 million so-called economic impact payments were sent to taxpayers as part of the 2.4 trillion dollars coronavirus relief package enacted in March.
The Government Accountability Office, Congress’ auditing arm, revealed the number of payments made in error to deceased taxpayers in a report published on Thursday on the government programmes.
The errors occurred mainly because of a lag in reporting data on who is deceased — a lapse that tax experts say is almost inevitable.
The IRS did not use death records to prevent payments to deceased individuals for the first three batches of payments because of the legal interpretation the agency was operating under, the GAO report says.
The IRS asked in May for the money back from the deceased taxpayers’ survivors. Some legal experts have said the government may not have the legal authority to require that it be returned.