The government’s internal watchdog said Tuesday that as many as 10 million people may still be eligible for COVID-19 stimulus payments.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) stated in a blog post that Americans with little or no income who are not required to pay taxes have until November 15 to complete a simplified tax return in order to receive their stimulus checks.
“Throughout the pandemic, the IRS and Treasury struggled to get COVID-relief payments into the hands of certain individuals, particularly those with lower incomes, limited internet access, or who were homeless. According to IRS and Treasury data, there may be between 9 and 10 million eligible individuals who have not yet received these payments, the agency stated.
The GAO found that people who are exempt from filing tax returns, first-time filers, families with mixed immigrant status, and homeless individuals were among those most likely to have not received an overdue payment.
A total of $931 billion was disbursed to Americans over the course of multiple payments made possible by legislation enacted during both the Trump and Biden administrations in order to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The GAO characterized this procedure as “challenging for the IRS and Treasury.”
Many within the tax industry have come to the IRS’s defense during the pandemic, arguing that it was beyond the IRS’s duty to become the primary administrator of emergency economic stimulus payments.
Still, the increased responsibilities of the IRS have resulted in a backlog of tens of millions of unprocessed tax returns and unanswered phone calls, leaving millions of Americans awaiting their annual refunds.
The additional pressure may have also contributed to a shortage of stimulus funds for up to 10 million Americans.
The IRS and Treasury only had information on taxpayers who had previously filed taxes in 2020, according to the GAO. “In May 2021, the Inspector General of the Treasury identified a potential 10 million individuals eligible for payments. As of June, the IRS had no additional outreach plans.”
In the next decade, $80 billion will be allocated to the Internal Revenue Service as a result of a recent spending plan proposed by Democrats.
Approximately $33 billion will be spent on operational support, services for payers, and system modernization, while more than half will be allocated to increased enforcement efforts, such as audits.
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