Federal stimulus checks go abroad before reaching US citizens in need

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Wonderlane | Flickr

Gabriel Rivera

Although many Americans have received their $1,200 stimulus checks in recent weeks, there have been several issues with the distribution of federally mandated aid promised by theCARES Act. As of the end of April, approximately 90 million of the 150 million Americans estimated to receive payment have obtained their stimulus checks. However, millions of Americans are still waiting for much needed financial assistance to arrive. The majority of Americans that have still not received their checks are citizens that receive Social Security benefits and do not file tax returns. “They can expect the money to automatically arrive however they normally receive their benefits, whether by a check in the mail or direct deposit to their bank account or debit card,” according to CNN.

Other groups of Americans that are expected to receive checks in May include citizens that receive Supplemental Security Income and low-income veterans, who either did not file for tax returns or receive pension payments from the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Some Americans that have received their stimulus checks are also facing some challenges as well. Several people told media sources that their $1,200 check was sent to a bank account they had closed and no longer used.

In these scenarios, the banks commonly sent the money back to the IRS. “In that case, the payment will likely come later by a check in the mail,” according to CNN.

While stimulus checks are projected to be delivered to the eagerly awaiting Americans in the upcoming weeks, there are still glaring problems with the system of distribution.

The IRS and federal government can process and send out approximately five million checks a week to U.S. citizens still in need of the funds. With over 50 million Americans still without their checks, the IRS may be sending out money from the CARES Act well into the month of May.

Additionally, earlier in April, many Americans reported they were receiving checks addressed to their deceased relatives. The IRS and President Trump have acknowledged this problem since it was revealed and have claimed they will correct it in the weeks to follow. Issues involving the distribution of stimulus checks, however, are not limited to the United States.

Thousands of people overseas that have worked or studied in the United States over the past two years have reportedly received stimulus checks in the last few weeks. The cause for this error stems from an innocent mistake made by many of these foreigners when filing taxes.

“There were 1.1 million foreign students in the U.S. last year, according to the Institute of International Education,” Politico reports. Expert accountants say that of these foreign students a majority of them either failed to file their taxes or filed them incorrectly. Those that attempted to file taxes accidentally did so through filing systems designated for U.S. residents such as TurboTax.

The IRS had evidently not realized this error and, consequently, sent out the stimulus checks to several foreign students in the middle of April. The sudden deposit into several accounts of foreign students have taken many by surprise. When they attempted to contact the IRS about the mistakenly allocated deposit, they received no instruction on how to return the money.

“I don’t really want to use that money because it doesn’t really belong to me,” a student that spoke to Politico said.

While the IRS has not acknowledged the checks that have gone out to people outside of the United States, they have tried to expedite the process of getting stimulus checks into the hands of Americans that have yet to receive them.

The IRS “created an online tool for non-filers that asks for basic information including names, date of births, and Social Security numbers for the person filing and his or her dependents,” according to CNN. Another online tool, Get My Payment, allows citizens to change their account information and ensure the stimulus checks are going to their active bank accounts.

The federal agency’s efforts to improve the distribution of stimulus checks will be imperative as the pandemic causes the unemployment rate to rise, leaving many in need of financial help.