05.12.20

Baldwin, Colleagues Call Out Trump Administration for Shortchanging Americans’ Direct Payments amid Pandemic

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) error means many families with children have not received the full amount owed to them

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and her colleagues, led by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), are calling on the Trump administration to fix a major error that has kept families with children across the country from receiving the full direct payment amount that they qualify for under Congress’ Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Some families did not receive the $500 payment per dependent that they qualified for, and are now being told by the IRS to wait until next year when they file their 2020 taxes to receive the additional assistance. 

“These families–who were told by their federal government to rely on that assistance–will be expected to wait for the error to be corrected through their 2020 tax returns,” the senators wrote in their letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “This is simply unacceptable and we expect the IRS to send out missing payments immediately.”

“Across the country, families are awaiting financial assistance to meet their basic needs, including rent or mortgage payments, credit card bills, and food. The insensitivity of the IRS statement underlies this Administration’s clear misunderstanding of what this money will be used for, and the urgency by which accurate payments must get out the door,” the senators continued.

In order to better understand the full scope of the administration’s error—and prevent it from happening again—the senators have requested, in addition to immediately remedying the problem by getting checks to families who have been shortchanged, a response to their letter within five business days that includes the number of Americans who have received an inaccurate payment amount, and a detailed explanation of any Internal Revenue Service (IRS) quality control processes that were used for checks and direct deposits that have been sent. 

The letter was also signed by Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

The full letter is available here and below.

 

Dear Secretary Mnuchin:

We write to express our disappointment in the recent announcement that due to errors made by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the disbursement of the Economic Impact Payments, many American families with dependents did not receive the full amount owed to them.  These families – who were told by their federal government to rely on that assistance – will be expected to wait for the error to be corrected through their 2020 tax returns.

This is simply unacceptable and we expect the IRS to send out missing payments immediately.

Across the country, families are awaiting financial assistance to meet their basic needs, including rent or mortgage payments, credit card bills, and food. The insensitivity of the IRS statement underlies this Administration’s clear misunderstanding of what this money will be used for, and the urgency by which accurate payments must get out the door.

We also ask the IRS to answer the following questions within five business days so that we can learn more about the details surrounding this error. 

  • How many Americans have received an inaccurate payment?
    • If that number is not readily available, what are the administrative costs of determining that number?
    • Does the IRS have an existing process of quality control for checks that have been sent?

We recognize that with the quick work expected from the IRS, additional administrative hurdles are inevitable. That said, we cannot expect Americans who are hurting to simply sit with that error for another year. We invite you to work with Congress to ensure the needs of the IRS are met, so that the American people get the assistance they are relying on in a timely manner.

Sincerely,