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Life in times of coronavirus: US govt hands out money to dead people

BusinessToday.In     April 16, 2020

The US government is handing out cheques of $1,200 to its citizens to help people mitigate the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. However, some Americans are surprised to find out that the amount has been disbursed even for people who are dead, USA Today reported.

Congressman Thomas Massie, Representative of the 4th district of Kentucky shared a screenshot of a conversation he had with his friend, whose father received the stimulus amount of $1,200. The individual had died in 2018. Massie said, "This is insane, but just the tip of the iceberg."

Financial adviser Scott Salaske also took to Twitter to talk about someone who received the stimulus cheque for $1,200 as well as for the deceased spouse. "Is the government that desperate for people to spend money?" he said.

Many wondered if the government would now take the cheque back. Nina Olson, founder of Center for Taxpayer Rights told USA Today that the government would not take the amount back. She said that the payments are based on the taxpayers' returns for 2019, or 2018 if they are yet to file. Individuals who died in this period would receive the amount. Moreover, if a person files jointly the year their spouse dies, they would be eligible for their spouse's amount.

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Malcolm Sparrow, professor of public management at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government explained to USA Today that payments might happen because government's data is not updated. Malcolm also theorised that there could be cases of fraud as well. "When you create a system where you can submit a claim electronically and it gets paid electronically, you open up the door for massive computerised fraud," he said.

It is still unclear whether the government would take the amount back. IRS is still to issue guidelines for payments sent in error.

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INDIA CORONAVIRUS TRACKER: BusinessToday.In brings you a daily tracker as coronavirus cases continue to spread. Here is the state-wise data on total cases, fatalities and recoveries in one comprehensive graphic.

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