The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on stimulus checks during the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. From April 2020 to December 2021, the federal government made direct payments to taxpayers totaling $931 billion to address pandemic-related financial stress.

Report Findings

Some eligible taxpayers never received payments. Eligible taxpayers can still claim their payments through October 17. There were challenges for the Service and Treasury to get payments especially to nonfilers, or those who were not required to file tax returns. Taxpayers who think they may be eligible but did not receive the third economic impact payment (EIP) or child tax credit (CTC) can request an extension and file a simplified return at https://www.childtaxcredit.gov/. Although no new EIP and advance CTC payments are underway, the Treasury and Service could learn to manage other refundable tax credits such as the earned income tax credit (EITC). Further, the IRS’s new Taxpayer Experience Office could help improve outreach and improve taxpayer experience.

Recommendations

GAO made two recommendations. First, the Treasury and IRS could use available data to update their estimate of eligible taxpayers to better tailor and redirect their ongoing outreach and communications efforts for similar tax credits. Second, both agencies could focus on improving interagency collaboration. They could use data to assess their efforts to educate more taxpayers about refundable tax credits and eligibility requirements.