A new internal investigation by Congress found that at least 8.7 million Americans are at risk of missing out on the $1,200 stimulus check due to incomplete records at the IRS and the Treasury Department. The U.S. Government Accountability Office published a report on Monday showing that the Treasury Department's data was insufficient for reaching all eligible Americans with a stimulus check. This was especially true for those who do not typically need to file a tax return.
The GAO's extensive new report is 371 pages long, tracking the implementation and deployment of programs in the CARES Act — the $2.2 trillion stimulus package passed to combat the coronavirus pandemic back in March. It found, among other things, that non-tax filers were one of the biggest groups of Americans who missed out on their stimulus check, despite being eligible. The office noted that the Treasury Department had followed its advice to extend the application deadline for non-filers from July to September, but it might not be enough.
The GAO counts about 14 million people who do not file taxes every year, but are eligible for a stimulus check. It notes that about 5.3 million people used the IRS' online "non-filers tool" to submit payment information and get a stimulus check. By their calculations, that leaves at least 8.7 million people without the check they are entitled to.
The GAO is trying to determine whether the Treasury Department needs to do more to reach these taxpayers, and get them the money they are entitled to. It notes that neither the Treasury Department nor the IRS have updated their tally of eligible Americans who are still missing stimulus checks.
"Without an updated estimate, the Treasury, the IRS, other federal agencies and IRS' outreach partners are limited in their ability to appropriately scale and target outreach and communication efforts to individuals who may be eligible for a payment," says the report.
The report also points out that many of the non-tax filers in this category are "very low-income," and therefore need financial aid more than ever during this pandemic. In total, the undistributed money in the stimulus check program likely stands at about $10.4 billion.
While these Americans are still missing out on their first stimulus check, others are waiting anxiously for another. The U.S. Congress is still at a stalemate when it comes to the next stimulus bill, but lawmakers promise they are still working on it.