Nearly 60,000 stimulus payments made to dead people have been returned so far, according to a new report from the Treasury Inspector General.
The report says there were no issues with around 98 percent of the stimulus payments.
However, around 4.4 million payments, for a total of $5.5 billion, may have been misappropriated for possibly ineligible people.
Those include payments to deceased people, dependents who don’t qualify, nonresidents, those who live in the U.S. territories who also got payments from the territories, and those who have changed their filing status.
A chart breaking down the payments notes that the 4.4 million broke down into 2.1 million payments to the deceased, 1.8 million to dependents who didn’t qualify, 324,000 for nonresidents, 61,000 duplicate territory payments and 46,000 filing status changes.
The report notes that there were 65,447 payments which had been sent to deceased individuals that were voluntarily returned. The total was over $80 million.
The IRS also recognized the potential for the stimulus payments could have upped the risk for fraud in tax returns. As such the agency has implemented a system to try and filter out fraud. As of Nov. 11, 2020, according to the report, there had been 457,325 questionable tax returns associated with the stimulus payments, and 38,273 were definitely fraud.
The stimulus checks going to dead people also happened other times stimulus checks went out. Last summer PYMNTS reported that the initial round of $1,200 checks saw $1.4 billion of them go to dead people by accident. That came down to the IRS and Treasury working to get the payments out quickly due to the rapid onset of COVID-19 and the ensuing loss of millions of jobs.
While the IRS has access to a complete record of the deceased belonging to the Social Security Administration, the Treasury does not have access to that, and nor does the Bureau of Fiscal Service, which sends out the payments.