Close to 70% of the $1.6 billion in coronavirus stimulus payments that were sent to dead people have been recovered, according to a Treasury Department official.
The Hill reports the Treasury official told the Government Accountability Office about the progress of recovering the payments.
The official's comment was included in a Monday GAO report about the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We were unable to verify that amount by the time we finalized our work on this report," the GAO stated in its report. "We are working with Treasury to determine the number of payments sent to decedents that have been recovered."
According to the GAO's report, the Treasury and IRS sent nearly 1.2 million payments totaling $1.6 billion to dead people. The stimulus payments were part of a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package that sent one-time direct payments up to $1,200 to most Americans. Parents received an extra $500 per child.
Total, the Treasury and the IRS disbursed 164 million payments, according to the GAO report.
The watchdog agency recommended the IRS consider a cost-effective way to notify recipients about how to return any stimulus payments they might have received if they are not eligible for them.
In its Monday report, the office said the "Treasury and IRS have taken steps to implement this recommendation and are considering further actions."
The IRS has instructions on its website about how to return payments sent to people who died. The Treasury has held and canceled some payments sent to deceased individuals.
The Treasury also considered issuing letters to request recipients return outstanding checks for dead people and repay any amounts paid by direct deposit or checks that have already been cashed. But the department told the GAO they have not sent the letters because Congress is expected to take up legislation that might change the eligibility requirements for the payments, according to the report.
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