IRS Sent $1.4 Billion in Coronavirus Relief Money to Dead People

Proving once again that federal bureaucrats who do little other than spend trillions of dollars are really bad at it, the Government Accountability Office has found that the IRS sent $1.4 billion in coronavirus emergency relief payments to 1.1 million dead Americans.

That’s an average of $1,272 for every deceased American who was posthumously mailed a federal stimulus check.

Charles Duncan of the McClatchy news service describes how that happened in plain English:

The Internal Revenue Service sent almost $1.4 billion in coronavirus relief payments to 1.1 million dead Americans, according to a new Government Accountability Office report released Thursday.

In the report to Congress, the GAO said the IRS typically uses death records from the Social Security Administration to weed out fraudulent tax refund claims. But the IRS and the Treasury Department “did not use the death records to stop payments to deceased individuals” when it sent out the first batches of stimulus checks this spring, according to the report.

In the highlights of the GAO’s report, the federal watchdog agency suggested the IRS take steps to recover the money that was sent to dead people who, oddly enough, were not eligible to receive any federal stimulus money.

GAO recommends that IRS should consider cost-effective options for notifying ineligible recipients how to return payments. IRS agreed with the recommendation.

But they don’t say how the IRS bureaucrats will communicate with the dead Americans who received the $1.4 billion in relief payments. Do you suppose they’ll send out 1.1 million letters to the USPS’s dead letter office? Or will they save money on postage and conduct 1.1 million séances instead? (1)

This puts a whole new spin on the saying “Nothing is certain but death and taxes”. Except perhaps bureaucratic incompetency.

(1) P.S. I’m having a bit of fun here because of the way the GAO left its recommended solution open! In reality, the IRS should identify all the erroneously issued checks that were cashed by the deceased Americans’ estates and survivors, then follow up with them by mail.

Craig Eyermann is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute.
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