oversight

Implementation of Economic Impact Payments

Published by the Office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration on 2021-05-24.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION




              Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


                                                 May 24, 2021

                                    Report Number: 2021-46-034




 This report has cleared the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration disclosure review process and information
                  determined to be restricted from public release has been redacted from this document.
                                                                                                                 1

                             TIGTACommunications@tigta.treas.gov | www.treasury.gov/tigta
                      HIGHLIGHTS: Implementation of Economic Impact Payments

Final Audit Report issued on May 24, 2021                                        Report Number 2021-46-034

Why TIGTA Did This Audit               What TIGTA Found
This audit was initiated to assess     The IRS, as required by the CARES Act, initiated a multipronged
the IRS’s Economic Impact              public awareness campaign to inform taxpayers about the availability
Payment (EIP) outreach and             of the EIP. These efforts included coordinating with local community
assistance to individuals, accuracy    organizations, food banks, and homeless shelters to reach
of the computation, and                unsheltered individuals; notifying approximately 9 million individuals
adequacy of controls to prevent        who do not have a tax return filing requirement but may qualify for
ineligible individuals from            an EIP; and designating a National EIP Registration Day. In addition,
receiving a payment.                   the IRS established processes to issue a notice to each EIP recipient
                                       as required by the CARES Act. The notice provides the recipient with
This is a part of a series of audits
                                       the amount of their payment and the method used to send their
to evaluate the IRS’s
                                       payment, e.g., direct deposit or paper check/prepaid debit card.
implementation of the EIP and the
Recovery Rebate Credit. TIGTA is       As TIGTA reported in June 2020, our review of the more than
conducting a separate review of        157 million EIPs issued as of May 21, 2020, found that the IRS
the IRS’s processing of Recovery       correctly computed the EIP amount for 98 percent (154 million) of
Rebate Credit claims.                  these payments. However, as of July 16, 2020, the IRS had issued
                                       more than 4.4 million EIPs totaling nearly $5.5 billion to potentially
Impact on Taxpayers
                                       ineligible individuals. These payments include payments made to
One of the most significant            deceased individuals, potentially nonqualified dependents,
parts of the Coronavirus Aid,          nonresidents, individuals in U.S. Territories (who have also received
Relief, and Economic Security          payments from the Territories), and individuals with filing status
(CARES) Act, signed into law on        changes. In response to our alerting management of the issuance of
March 27, 2020, is a refundable        payments to the previously mentioned potentially ineligible
Recovery Rebate Credit for             individuals, the IRS added instructions to IRS.gov to inform these
individuals. The Act authorizes        types of individuals of their ineligibility and the need to return
the IRS to make an advance             these payments, including the process to be followed. As of
payment of the Recovery Rebate         October 1, 2020, individuals voluntarily returned 65,447 payments
Credit to eligible individuals by      totaling more than $80 million.
December 31, 2020. This advance
                                       Finally, the IRS recognized that the EIP created a new risk for
payment is referred to as the EIP.
                                       tax-related identity theft. In response, the IRS developed specific
As of December 31, 2020, the IRS
                                       filters to identify potentially fraudulent filings. Once a return was
has issued 168.2 million EIPs
                                       identified as potentially fraudulent, it was sent to an IRS team for
totaling $280 billion.
                                       review. As of November 11, 2020, the IRS has identified
                                       457,325 questionable tax returns associated with the EIP for review
                                       and determined that 38,273 returns were a fraudulent EIP claim.
                                       What TIGTA Recommended
                                       TIGTA made two recommendations to the IRS including
                                       implementing a multipronged public awareness campaign to inform
                                       the public about the availability of the Recovery Rebate Credit related
                                       to individuals who died in Calendar Year 2020, and developing
                                       processes to identify and prevent the issuance of future EIPs to
                                       individuals who are ineligible based on applicable dependency
                                       requirements.
                                       IRS management disagreed with both recommendations.
                                       Management believes a public awareness campaign is not warranted
                                       and its systems do not have the ability to look to outside data
                                       sources to identify and prevent the issuance of future EIPs to
                                       ineligible individuals based on applicable dependency requirements.
                                         U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY
                                                  WASHINGTON, D.C. 20220



TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL
  FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION



                                             May 24, 2021


MEMORANDUM FOR: COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE



FROM:                        Michael E. McKenney
                             Deputy Inspector General for Audit

SUBJECT:                     Final Audit Report – Implementation of Economic Impact Payments
                             (Audit # 202040632)

This report presents the results of our review to assess the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS)
Economic Impact Payment outreach and assistance to individuals, accuracy of the computation
of the payment, and adequacy of controls to prevent ineligible individuals from receiving a
payment. This review was part of our Fiscal Year 2020 discretionary audit work and addresses
the major management and performance challenge of Implementing Tax Law Changes.
Management’s complete response to the draft report is included as Appendix IV.
Copies of this report are also being sent to the IRS managers affected by the report
recommendations. If you have any questions, please contact me or Russell P. Martin, Assistant
Inspector General for Audit (Returns Processing and Account Services).
                                                   Implementation of Economic Impact Payments




Table of Contents
Background .....................................................................................................................................Page   1


Results of Review .......................................................................................................................Page          4

            Some Economic Impact Payments Were Sent to
            Potentially Ineligible Individuals .....................................................................................Page 5
                         Recommendation 1: ...................................................................Page 7

                         Recommendation 2: .......................................................................... Page 9

            Economic Impact Payments to Incarcerated Individuals ......................................Page 13
            Processes Have Been Established to Identify Fraudulent Tax
            Return Filings to Receive an Economic Impact Payment ......................................Page 13
            Economic Impact Payment 2 ...........................................................................................Page 14


Appendices
            Appendix I – Detailed Objective, Scope, and Methodology ................................Page 17
            Appendix II – Outcome Measures .................................................................................Page 19
            Appendix III – Notice 1444, Your Economic Impact Payment.............................Page.24
            Appendix IV – Management’s Response to the Draft Report .............................Page.25
            Appendix V – Glossary of Terms ....................................................................................Page 31
            Appendix VI – Abbreviations .......................................................................................... Page 32
                                       Implementation of Economic Impact Payments




Background
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law on
March 27, 2020, is the largest economic rescue package in U.S. history, providing financial
assistance for individuals, families, and businesses affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019
(COVID-19) pandemic. One of the most significant parts of the CARES Act for individuals is
Section 2201, 2020 Recovery Rebates for Individuals. Section 2201 created a refundable tax
credit of up to $1,200 per eligible individual to be applied toward income earned during Tax
Year 1 2020. In addition, eligible individuals can receive up to $500 for each child in their family
who is under 17 years old.
The CARES Act defines eligible individuals as those with adjusted gross income up to $75,000
(up to $150,000 for married couples filing a joint return). Individuals with income above the
income thresholds will have their credit reduced by $5 for each $100 above the threshold
amount. In addition to the income requirements, individuals:
       •   Must have a work-eligible Social Security Number (SSN). Married members of the
           military are eligible as long as one spouse has a work-eligible SSN, i.e., one spouse can
           have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. 2
       •   Must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien.
       •   Cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s Federal income tax return.
The CARES Act also required the Department of the Treasury to conduct a public awareness
campaign regarding the availability of the credit and required the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
to issue a notice to each recipient within 15 days of their payment being issued. The notice
must include the amount of the payment and the method used to issue the payment, e.g., direct
deposit, paper check, or prepaid debit card.

The CARES Act authorizes advance payment of the Recovery Rebate Credit
The CARES Act authorizes the IRS to make an advance payment of the Recovery Rebate Credit
to eligible individuals. This advance payment is referred to as the Economic Impact Payment
(EIP). Advance payments must be made before December 31, 2020. To determine eligibility and
the amount of the advance EIP, the IRS is authorized to use information from an individual’s Tax
Year 2019 tax return. If the individual has not yet filed a Tax Year 2019 return, the IRS can use
the individual’s Tax Year 2018 return. In addition, the IRS can use available information such as
third-party income reporting documents to automatically issue an EIP to individuals who receive
Social Security and Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) retirement benefits and do not have a
Federal income tax return filing requirement. Figure 1 shows the process the IRS used to
calculate the EIP.




1
    See Appendix V for a glossary of terms.
2
  Individual tax identification number issued by the IRS to individuals who are required to have a Taxpayer
Identification Number for Federal tax purposes but do not have and are not eligible to receive an SSN.
                                                                                                              Page 1
                                   Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


                                     Figure 1: Calculation of the EIP




    Source: Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) analysis of EIP Core Requirement
    Process Flow.
Individuals who are eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit must reduce the amount of the
credit by the amount of their advance payments. Individuals whose EIP is less than the
allowable Recovery Rebate Credit will receive the additional credit when they file their Tax
Year 2020 tax return. Individuals whose EIP was more than the allowable credit based on their
Tax Year 2020 return do not have to repay the excess.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, (CAA)3 enacted on December 27, 2020,
authorized the IRS to issue a second EIP (hereafter referred to as EIP2)
The CAA created an additional Recovery Rebate Credit of up to $600 for each eligible individual
and $600 for each eligible child. Similar to the CARES Act, the CAA authorized the IRS to make
advance payments of the new Recovery Rebate Credit, hereafter referred to as EIP2. These
payments were to be issued no later than January 15, 2021.
The CAA also modified the eligibility requirements of the CARES Act Recovery Rebate Credit to
match those of the new credit. The Act:
       •   Modified the SSN requirement for Married Filing Joint filers. The CARES Act
           required both individuals on a married filing joint return to have a valid SSN unless one
           spouse is a member of the military. The CAA modified this requirement to include all
           Married Filing Joint filers for which only one spouse has a valid SSN. However, the law
           clarified that for nonmilitary families, only the spouse and qualifying children that have a
           valid SSN are to be considered when determining the credit amount to which these filers
           are entitled.
       •   Increased the income phase-out dollar limit for individuals filing as a Qualifying
           Widow or Widower from $75,000 to $150,000. Individuals who file as a Qualifying
           Widow with income above the income threshold will have their credit reduced by $5 for
           each $100 above the threshold amount.



3
    Pub. L. No 116-260.
                                                                                                    Page 2
                                      Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


The CAA also specified that individuals who were deceased before January 1, 2020, do not
qualify for an EIP2 or the new Recovery Rebate Credit.

TIGTA reviews of the IRS’s issuance of the EIPs
This is a part of a series of audits to evaluate the IRS’s implementation of the EIP and the
Recovery Rebate Credit. In June 2020, we issued a report that presented interim results of
our review of the IRS’s issuance of the EIPs. 4 We reported that significant coordination and
efforts were taken by the IRS to expedite its analysis and reprogramming of systems and to
educate individuals on the EIP. Remarkably, the IRS began issuing the EIPs on April 10, 2020,
just 14 calendar days after the passage of the CARES Act, which was enacted at the same time
the IRS was closing its facilities in response to COVID-19. Efforts included:
      •    Completing extensive computer programming and testing necessary to issue the EIPs
           despite office closures and employees needing to work remotely. This included
           developing computer programming requirements to identify eligible individuals and
           compute the allowable EIP amount, as well as modifying the Master File to capture
           information related to the issuance of the EIP in each individual’s tax account.
      •    Establishing a dedicated web page on IRS.gov (www.IRS.gov/coronavirus/
           economic-impact-payments) to provide updated information related to the issuance
           of the EIP, including a continually evolving list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). As
           of September 30, 2020, the IRS reported more than 285 million visits to its EIPs web
           page.
      •    Developing an online tool, “Get My Payment,” that provides taxpayers with the ability to
           check the status of their EIP payment and submit bank information for taxpayer accounts
           that are missing that information. As of September 30, 2020, the IRS reported
           approximately 579 million uses of this tool.
      •    Coordinating with the Free File Alliance to develop the NonFilers: Enter Payment Info
           Here tool (hereafter referred to as the Nonfiler tool). This tool assists taxpayers who are
           eligible to receive an EIP but do not have a Federal tax return filing requirement. The
           tool enables these individuals to quickly file a short tax return that contains the
           information the IRS needs to issue their EIP for free. As of September 30, 2020,
           7,582,400 individuals submitted a short EIP return using the Nonfiler tool. The IRS kept
           the tool opened until November 21. The IRS reports accepting 8,518,600 returns
           through the tool as of this date.
       •   Coordinating with other Federal agencies to obtain program data that could be used to
           automatically send an EIP to individuals who receive benefits from these agencies and do
           not regularly interact with the IRS. For example, the IRS worked with the Bureau of the
           Fiscal Service (BFS), 5 the Social Security Administration (SSA), and the Department of
           Veterans Affairs (VA) to identify beneficiary recipients along with their direct deposit



4
 TIGTA, Ref. No. 2020-46-041, Interim Results of the 2020 Filing Season: Effect of COVID-19 Shutdown on Tax
Processing and Customer Service Operations and Assessment of Efforts to Implement Legislative Provisions
(June 2020).
5
    Agency of the U.S. Department of the Treasury that issues payments on behalf of the IRS.
                                                                                                          Page 3
                                       Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


           account numbers, if available, for use in systemically issuing the EIP without the
           beneficiary having to file a short-form tax return.
This audit focuses on the accuracy of the IRS’s calculation of the first EIP based on the CARES
Act (hereafter referred to as EIP1) and efforts to prevent payments to ineligible individuals. We
also provide preliminary information on the IRS’s efforts to issue EIP2 payments. We are
conducting a separate review that will continue to evaluate IRS efforts to identify eligible
individuals who did not receive an EIP1 and/or an EIP2 payment as well as the IRS’s processing
of Recovery Rebate Credit claims. This review will also include an assessment of IRS efforts to
assist eligible individuals who do not have a Federal tax return filing requirement and did not
receive an EIP. We plan to issue this report later in Calendar Year 2021.



Results of Review
As required by the CARES Act, the IRS initiated a multipronged public awareness campaign to
inform taxpayers about the availability of the EIP. This included:
       •   Coordinating with local community organizations, food banks, and homeless shelters to
           reach unsheltered individuals. For example, the IRS reached out to 4,598 homeless
           shelters with information on how to obtain an EIP and asked these organizations to act
           as “trusted partners” to receive payments on behalf of their clients.
       •   Coordinating with the Department of the Treasury to notify approximately 9 million
           individuals who do not have a tax return filing requirement but may qualify for an EIP.
           The IRS, in a joint effort with the Department of the Treasury, used available tax data to
           identify individuals who may have income reported to the IRS by a third party but do not
           have a tax return filing requirement. Once identified, the IRS sent these individuals a
           letter notifying them that they may be eligible for an EIP and urging them to use the
           Nonfiler tool on IRS.gov to file a short return before October 15, 2020, to receive an EIP.
       •   Designating a National EIP Registration Day and extending the deadline to use the
           Nonfiler tool from October 15, 2020, to November 21, 2020. The IRS worked with
           partner groups, including those that work with low-income and underserved
           communities, to spread the word about the deadline and provide support to help
           individuals register for the payments.
As of December 31, 2020, the IRS issued 168.2 million EIPs totaling $280 billion. In addition, the
IRS also established processes to issue a notice to each EIP recipient as required by the CARES
Act. The notice provides the recipient with the amount of their payment and the method that
their payment was sent, e.g., direct deposit or check/prepaid debit card. 6 For the purpose of this
report, EIP figures presented reflect payments issued as of the time frame noted. We will
continue to provide updated figures as part of our subsequent reviews.




6
    See Appendix III for an example of the notice sent.
                                                                                                Page 4
                                 Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


Some Economic Impact Payments Were Sent to Potentially Ineligible
Individuals
In June 2020, we reported that our review of the more than 157 million EIPs issued as of
May 21, 2020, found that the IRS correctly computed the EIP amount for 98 percent (154 million)
of these payments. Subsequent to our June report, we reviewed the payments associated with
the other 2 percent (3 million payments) in which our calculated EIP amount did not match the
IRS EIP amount. For these payments, the difference between the two amounts resulted from:
   •   2.1 million payments in which we used a Tax Year 2019 tax return that was processed
       subsequent to the IRS’s initial determination of the individual’s eligibility and EIP amount.
       The IRS’s computation was based on the individual’s Tax Year 2018 tax return as the Tax
       Year 2019 had not yet been processed.
   •   896,514 payments in which there was a difference in the number of children that
       qualified for the $500 payment. For example, we relied on the child’s age as of
       January 1, 2020, to identify the number of children who qualified for the extra $500 in
       the EIP. The IRS relied on the child’s age during the tax year used to determine
       eligibility, i.e., Tax Year 2018 or 2019.
While the IRS correctly computed the EIP amount for most of the payments, as of July 16, 2020,
the IRS had issued more than 4.4 million EIPs totaling nearly $5.5 billion to potentially ineligible
individuals. Figure 2 provides more details on these EIPs.
                Figure 2: Potentially Erroneous EIPs Issued as of July 16, 2020

                                                            Payments               Dollars

   Deceased                                                 2,174,616            $3.5 billion
   Dependents                                               1,844,846            $1.4 billion
   Nonresidents                                               324,864           $444 million
   Duplicate U.S. Territory Payments                              61,119         $92 million
   Duplicate Payments for Filing Status Changes                   46,763         $69 million
                                                  Total     4,452,208            $5.5 billion
 Source: TIGTA analysis of payments issued as of July 16, 2020.

The EIPs issued to deceased individuals
As of July 16, 2020, the IRS issued nearly 2.2 million payments totaling nearly $3.5 billion to
individuals who per IRS records were deceased. This includes 667,574 payments totaling more
than $1.6 billion in which one of the individuals on a married filing joint return was deceased
and 20,851 payments totaling more than $49 million in which both individuals were deceased.
As we previously reported, we notified IRS management on April 15, 2020, that the EIPs were
being issued to deceased individuals. IRS management initially noted that payments to these
individuals were allowed because the CARES Act does not prohibit the issuance of payments to
deceased individuals.
However, the Department of the Treasury subsequently changed its position, noting that
individuals who were deceased are not entitled to an EIP, and if a payment was received, it

                                                                                                Page 5
                                    Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


should be returned to the IRS. On May 1, 2020, we raised concerns to IRS management
regarding the lack of guidance regarding how an individual can return an EIP that they received
in error. In response to our concerns, the IRS updated the EIP FAQs on its website on
May 6, 2020, with new guidance regarding payments that were issued to deceased individuals.
The IRS informed individuals who received these payments for an individual who died before the
receipt of the payment that the payment should be returned to the IRS. The IRS also included
steps that should be taken to return these payments as part of its FAQs. In our discussions with
IRS management, they stated that they are relying on individuals to voluntarily return these
payments. As of October 1, 2020, a total of 59,500 payments totaling more than $72 million
have been voluntarily returned.
To prevent additional payments from being issued to deceased individuals, the IRS:
    •   Provided the BFS with a data file that contained the Taxpayer Identification Number
        (TIN) 7 of individuals listed in IRS records as being deceased for the past five years and
        requested that the BFS remove these individuals from payment files. Payments were
        removed using this process between May 1, 2020, and May 8, 2020. The BFS was able to
        stop 230,086 payments totaling more than $358 million using the provided information.
        However, in initiating this action, the BFS stopped the entire payment even when the
        spouse of the deceased individual was alive and entitled to their portion of the EIP.
        We alerted the IRS to this situation. In response, the IRS worked with the BFS to
        identify the specific individuals whose portion of their EIP should not have been
        stopped. IRS management stated that they implemented corrective programming on
        September 24, 2020, and issued approximately 225,000 recovery payments for the
        spouse’s portion of the EIP.
    •   Implemented programming on May 13, 2020, to discontinue calculating and sending the
        EIPs to deceased individuals. Our analysis of payments issued subsequent to
        May 13, 2020, confirmed that the programming is working as intended.
In addition, at the direction of the Department of the Treasury, the BFS cancelled all outstanding
EIP paper checks on July 6, 2020, that were previously issued to deceased individuals. The
IRS posted information on its EIP website alerting taxpayers that the BFS has cancelled
outstanding EIP checks issued to recipients who may not be eligible, including those who
records show are deceased. The IRS also conducted a recovery effort to identify individuals
associated with joint payments to ensure that these individuals received the EIP to which they
are entitled. On November 19, 2020, the IRS issued recovery payments to these individuals.
As of October 1, 2020, from the nearly 2.2 million payments issued to deceased individuals, a
total of 668,277 payments totaling more than $872 million have been rejected by the bank or
returned to the IRS as undeliverable.




7
  A nine-digit number assigned to taxpayers for identification purposes. Depending upon the nature of the taxpayer,
the TIN is either an Employer Identification Number, an SSN, or an Individual TIN.
                                                                                                            Page 6
                               Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


The CAA clarifies Recovery Rebate Credit eligibility of individuals deceased in Calendar
Year 2020
Title II of Division N of the CAA, enacted on December 27, 2020, clarifies that individuals
who died in Calendar Year 2020 are eligible to receive the Recovery Rebate Credit. On
January 5, 2021, the IRS added the following FAQ to its EIP web page:
   Will a deceased individual receive the payment?
   Payment won’t be issued to someone who has died before January 1, 2020. If you filed a
   joint return in 2019 and your spouse died before January 1, 2020, you won’t receive a
   $600 payment for your deceased spouse, but you’ll still be issued up to $600 for you and
   $600 for any qualifying children, if all other eligibility criteria are met. With regard to eligible
   individuals who died in 2020, the Recovery Rebate Credit may be claimed on line 30 of their
   2020 tax return. Please refer to the instructions for the 2020 Form 1040 for more
   information.
Although clarification was included in this legislation, we remain concerned that considerable
confusion may exist on the part of the families and estates of individuals with a Date of Death
in Calendar Year 2020. This confusion arises from the fact that prior to the passage of the CAA,
the IRS instructed the families of deceased individuals, including those who died in Calendar
Year 2020, to return the decedent’s EIP, i.e., the advance payment of the Recovery Rebate Credit,
because they were not entitled to these advance payments.
Given the IRS’s extensive messaging and position prior to the passage of the CAA regarding the
EIPs sent to deceased individuals, we are concerned that the families and estates of individuals
with a Date of Death in Calendar Year 2020 may not understand that these deceased individuals
are in fact eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit, and as such may not file a decedent’s Tax
Year 2020 tax return to claim this credit. Of the nearly 2.2 million EIPs the IRS issued to
deceased individuals prior to May 2020, 831,958 payments were issued to individuals with a
Date of Death in Calendar Year 2020.
Our ongoing coverage will include an assessment of the IRS’s processing of final tax returns
associated with individuals deceased in Calendar Year 2020 to ensure that their Recovery Rebate
Credit is accurately calculated, and they receive the amount to which they are entitled.

Recommendation 1: The Commissioner, Wage and Investment Division, should initiate a
multipronged public awareness campaign to inform the public about the availability of the
Recovery Rebate Credit related to individuals deceased in Calendar Year 2020. This campaign
should clarify information previously provided about the advance payments as well as actions
that need to be taken to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit for a Calendar Year 2020 decedent.
       Management’s Response: The IRS disagreed with this recommendation. IRS
       management noted that the instructions for Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax
       Return, and Form 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors, state that individuals who died
       in Calendar Year 2020 are eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit, provided other
       eligibility requirements are met. IRS management has also taken further actions, such
       as clarifying information posted previously on its website about the advance payments
       to reflect the eligibility of decedents in 2020, as well as posting information about
       claiming the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit for eligible decedents. IRS management
       believes these actions are sufficient and a public awareness campaign is not warranted.
                                                                                                Page 7
                               Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


               Office of Audit Comment: We remain concerned that the families and estates
               of individuals deceased in Calendar Year 2020 may be unaware of this Recovery
               Rebate Credit eligibility provision.

The EIPs issued to individuals who were claimed as dependents
Our analysis of EIP payments issued as of July 16, 2020, identified approximately 1.8 million
potentially erroneous payments totaling nearly $1.4 billion associated with ineligible
dependents. These included:
   •   Nearly 1.1 million payments totaling more than $553.6 million that were issued for
       dependents who were older than 16 in Calendar Year 2020. The CARES Act states to be
       eligible for the $500 qualifying child payment, a child:
       o   Must be 16 years old or younger at the end of the tax year.
       o   Must be the taxpayer’s son, daughter, stepchild, foster or adopted child, brother,
           sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half-brother or half-sister, grandchildren, niece or
           nephew.
       o   Must have not provided more than one-half of their own support for the year, and
           other criteria.
       Our review of an IRS draft EIP Programming Requirements document identified that the
       IRS initially planned to evaluate the age of dependents as of January 1, 2020. IRS
       management indicated that they did not consider the age of the dependents in Calendar
       Year 2020 because the CARES Act authorizes them to rely on the information on
       taxpayers’ Tax Year 2018 or 2019 return when determining eligibility for the EIP. IRS
       management also stated that the computer processes used to calculate and issue the EIP
       cannot coordinate with the IRS database where Date of Birth information resides. While
       the IRS uses SSA data to verify that applicable age requirements related to credits and
       deductions are met when processing a tax return, it would need to complete extensive
       reprogramming to access this information during EIP processing.
   •   388,023 payments totaling $465.6 million issued to SSA/RRB/VA/Supplemental Security
       Income (SSI) beneficiaries who were claimed as a dependent on a Tax Year 2019 tax
       return filed before the EIP was issued. The CARES Act states that to be eligible for the
       EIP, an individual cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s Federal income
       tax return. IRS management stated that these individuals were not identified as a
       dependent because the Tax Year 2019 tax return on which they were claimed had not
       been processed at the time the IRS verified the individual’s dependent status.
   •   269,384 payments totaling $341.9 million issued to individuals who filed their own return
       and were also claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return. As previously
       noted, the CARES Act states that an individual who can be claimed as a dependent is not
       eligible for the EIP. Individuals are instructed to check a box on their tax return to notify
       the IRS that they can be claimed as someone else’s dependent. The IRS relied on this
       checkbox to identify individuals who were not eligible for an EIP. These
       269,384 individuals did not check the dependent box on their tax return as instructed.



                                                                                              Page 8
                               Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


EIP dependent payments were made for the same qualifying child used on more than one
tax return
In addition to the previously mentioned payments, we also identified 175,724 payments totaling
an estimated $44 million for qualifying children claimed on more than one tax return. These
175,724 payments involved 87,745 unique dependent TINs. The number of times a particular
child’s TIN was used on a tax return ranged from two tax returns to 21 tax returns. We alerted
the IRS of our identification of payments issued for multiple individuals and recommended that
the IRS:
    •   Update IRS.gov with information to encourage individuals who received an erroneous
        qualifying child EIP for a multiple use dependent to return the payment. The IRS
        disagreed. IRS management stated that these payments would be the result of either a
        taxpayer intentionally claiming a dependent to whom they knew they were not entitled,
        or an error caused by the taxpayer or an IRS employee during transcription of the
        return. IRS management stated that they doubt a FAQ would persuade someone who
        intentionally claimed a child in error to return the payment. In addition, taxpayers
        would be unaware of a transposition or transcription error and would not recognized
        that the FAQ applied to them.
    •   Contact these individuals to alert them that their TIN or their child’s TIN has been used
        as a dependent on someone else’s tax return and instruct them to notify the IRS if they
        believe their TIN or their child’s TIN may have been stolen. IRS management responded
        that they are evaluating the resources needed to accomplish our recommendation and
        will consider the messaging through direct mailings.
    •   Establish processes to recover payments that are determined to be the result of the
        identity theft of the dependent’s TIN. The IRS disagreed due to the amount of resources
        needed in comparison to the potential amount to be recovered. IRS management
        stated that deficiency procedures would be required to examine the facts and
        circumstances of each duplication to determine who is entitled to claim the dependent.
As of October 1, 2020, only 872 of the approximately 1.8 million individuals we identified have
voluntarily returned their payments totaling more than $1.1 million. In our subsequent
conversation with the IRS, IRS management explained that to identify dependents who did not
check the dependent box on their return or those dependents used on multiple returns during
EIP calculation and issuance would require extensive reprogramming of the involved systems.
While TIGTA recognizes the challenge involved to improve the current process, the IRS should
still consider program changes that would help it prevent future erroneous payments related to
dependents.

Recommendation 2: The Commissioner, Wage and Investment Division, should ensure that
prior to issuing future EIPs, processes are developed to cross-check return filings to identify and
prevent payments to individuals who are not eligible based on applicable dependency
requirements.
        Management’s Response: The IRS disagreed with this recommendation and the related
        outcome measure (see Appendix II for more information on the reported outcome
        measure). ********************************2************************************************
        *******************************************2*************************. In addition, IRS

                                                                                            Page 9
                              Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


       management believes implementing a process to do so would not guarantee a payment
       to an unentitled individual would be stopped, as the subsequent use of the dependent
       by the entitled person may not occur until after the first person’s return has been
       processed and the EIP issued. In effect, this would harm the rightful individuals by
       denying the payment to them. **********2************************************************
       *******************************************2************************************************
       *******************2*******************.
               Office of Audit Comment: *****2************************************************
               ************************************2************************************************
               ********2********. The IRS captures each use of a TIN for an applicable tax year in
               the Duplicate TIN database. The TINs that are used more than once are identified
               with a priority code. At a minimum, we believe the IRS can use the Duplicate TIN
               database to determine whether a TIN has already been used as a dependent on a
               tax return before issuing an EIP.

EIP payments issued to nonresidents
In June 2020, we reported that our analysis of payments issued as of May 21, 2020, identified
309,601 payments totaling more than $423 million that were issued to individuals whose SSN
indicates they are a legal alien authorized to work in the United States. However, these
individuals had no Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax withheld from their wages in
Calendar Years 2018 or 2019, which indicates they are likely not considered a U.S. resident.
Certain nonresident aliens are exempt from FICA taxes based on their VISA type, such as
nonresident alien students and professors temporarily present in the United States. We
conducted this analysis based on reports by news media that individuals who were not U.S.
residents were receiving the EIPs. These individuals include foreign college students who stayed
temporarily in the United States and filed the incorrect tax returns that make them appear to be
U.S. residents.
Our updated analysis of payments issued as of July 16, 2020, found the number of these
potentially erroneous payments increased to 324,864 payments totaling nearly $444 million. Of
the 324,864 payments, 30,175 of these payments totaling more than $37 million were calculated
by the IRS using a Form 1040, which listed a foreign address.
The CARES Act states that to be eligible for an EIP, an individual must be a U.S. citizen or
resident alien. On May 1, 2020, we sent an alert to the IRS detailing our identification of the
previously mentioned EIPs issued to individuals who are likely not U.S. residents and asked for
clarification on the steps the IRS used to ensure that individuals for whom an EIP is being issued
are in fact U.S. residents. In response to our alert, the IRS added the following FAQ to its
website:
   Does someone who is a resident alien qualify for the Payment?
   A person who is a nonresident alien in 2020 is not eligible for the Payment. A person who is
   a qualifying resident alien with a valid SSN is eligible for the Payment only if he or she is a
   qualifying resident alien in 2020 and could not be claimed as a dependent of another
   taxpayer for 2020. Aliens who received a payment but are not qualifying resident aliens for
   2020 should return the payment to the IRS.


                                                                                           Page 10
                                      Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


As of October 1, 2020, 2,361 payments totaling more than $2.8 million have been voluntarily
returned to the IRS. Management also indicated to ensure that only U.S. residents are sent an
EIP, payments were issued to only taxpayers who file a Form 1040. Taxpayers filing the Form
1040 NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return, are not eligible for the EIP. However, the
IRS has no process to identify nonresidents who incorrectly filed a Form 1040 similar to those we
identified in our analysis.
Based on our analysis, we have indications that nonresident aliens may be filing incorrect
Form 1040 tax returns. We plan to conduct an audit to determine whether IRS processes ensure
that aliens working in the United States are accurately determining their residency status and are
filing the proper income tax return. 8

Individuals with addresses in a U.S. Territory erroneously received duplicate EIPs
Our analysis of payments issued as of July 16, 2020, identified 59,946 individuals who incorrectly
received two EIPs – one from a U.S. Territory and one from the IRS. These individuals incorrectly
received 61,119 payments totaling nearly $92.2 million. Some of these individuals listed a U.S.
domestic address on their U.S. tax return used to calculate the EIP while others listed a U.S.
Territory address on their U.S. tax return.
In May 2020, we met with IRS management to discuss processes and procedures they developed
to ensure that the Territories do not issue duplicate payments to individuals who have already
received an EIP from the IRS. IRS management indicated that U.S. Territories are responsible for
determining who is eligible to receive an EIP payment and the amount of the payment as well as
issuing the payment. IRS management further explained that each U.S. Territory included steps
to identify duplicate payments in their respective EIP Implementation Plans, which they entered
into with the Department of the Treasury.
To assist U.S. Territories in the identification of potential duplicate payments, the IRS identified
payments it made to individuals with a U.S. Territory address similar to the analysis we
performed. The IRS sent these files to the Territories on a weekly basis. IRS management also
noted that each U.S. Territory is required to send data to the IRS on a monthly basis starting on
June 30, 2020, which details the specific individuals who were issued an EIP by the U.S. Territory,
including individuals the Territory identified as receiving a duplicate payment. In addition, on
June 8, 2020, the IRS updated the following information to its FAQs on its website:
      What does it mean if I received a Payment from both the IRS and a U.S territory tax
      agency?
      In general, eligible individuals should not receive a Payment from both the IRS and a U.S.
      territory tax agency. If you have received a Payment from more than one jurisdiction and
      you are a resident of a U.S. territory for the 2020 tax year, please consult your U.S. territory
      tax agency concerning information about Payments received by U.S. territory residents from
      the IRS, including incorrect or duplicate Payments. If you have received a Payment from
      more than one jurisdiction and you are a NOT a resident of a U.S. territory for the 2020 tax
      year, you should return any incorrect or duplicate Payments received from the U.S. territory
      tax agency to the IRS pursuant to the instructions about repayments.



8
    TIGTA Audit 202140004, Processes to Ensure That Aliens File the Correct Tax Form Based on Their Residency Status.
                                                                                                            Page 11
                                    Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


As of October 1, 2020, a total of 2,384 of the 59,946 individuals we identified have voluntarily
returned payments totaling more than $3.6 million.
Finally, IRS management stated that on October 9, 2020, they established a team to analyze EIP
data and support the Territories in identifying potential duplicate payments to reclaim the funds.
In response to the CAA, the U.S. Territories were required to establish new EIP Implementation
Plans with the Department of the Treasury for the issuance of the second stimulus payment
enacted on December 27, 2020. 9 According to the IRS, these plans were signed on
January 19, 2021. The IRS stated that it is currently evaluating its authority to continue to assist
the Territories’ identification and recovery of potential duplicate payments.

Duplicate EIP payments were issued erroneously to some individuals whose filing status
changed between Tax Year 2018 and Tax Year 2019
As we reported in June 2020, our analysis of payments issued as of May 21, 2020, identified
46,759 individuals who received two EIP payments. These involved duplicate payments to some
individuals whose filing status changed between Tax Year 2018 and Tax Year 2019, i.e., filed as
married in Tax Year 2018 and single in Tax Year 2019 or vice versa. The payments issued in error
totaled more than $69 million. These include:
      •    16,339 individuals who filed as the secondary taxpayer on a Married Filing Jointly return
           in Tax Year 2018 and subsequently filed as Single, i.e., Single, Head of Household,
           Qualifying Widow(er), or Married Filing Separately, in Tax Year 2019 as the primary
           taxpayer on a tax return. One payment was sent to the bank account or address shown
           on the Tax Year 2018 tax return, and one payment was sent to the bank account or
           address shown on the Tax Year 2019 tax return.
      •    30,420 individuals who filed as Single in Tax Year 2018 as the primary taxpayer on a tax
           return and subsequently filed as the secondary taxpayer on a Married Filing Jointly return
           in Tax Year 2019. One payment was sent to the bank account or address shown on the
           Tax Year 2018 tax return, and one payment was sent to the bank account or address
           shown on the Tax Year 2019 tax return.
We sent the IRS an alert notifying it of our concerns on May 12, 2020. IRS management noted
that programming requirements were put in place to ensure that multiple EIPs were not issued
to the same individual. However, because the IRS processed payments based on both Tax
Years 2018 and 2019 returns at the same time, the programming was unable to mark the
account for the Tax Year 2018 return to show a payment was issued before the Tax Year 2019
payment was issued. The IRS submitted programming changes on May 15, 2020, to correct this
issue, and we confirmed that the programming changes are working as intended as we only
identified an additional four payments for a total of 46,763 erroneous payments. As with other
EIPs issued in error, the IRS is asking these individuals to voluntarily return their duplicate




9
    The CAA, Pub. L. No. 116-260.
                                                                                             Page 12
                                Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


payment. As of October 1, 2020, 330 individuals we identified have voluntarily returned
payments totaling $429,793.


Economic Impact Payments to Incarcerated Individuals
In April 2020, the IRS stated that it planned to hold EIP payments identified as being associated
with incarcerated individuals. However, as we reported in June 2020, we found that the IRS’s
programming to hold these payments was not working, i.e., payments were being issued to
incarcerated individuals. We notified the IRS that these payments were not being held as it
intended. The IRS subsequently modified its computer programming to exclude incarcerated
individuals from receiving an EIP and worked with the BFS to intercept some of these payments.
On September 24, 2020, the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California issued a
preliminary injunction stopping the IRS from holding EIPs from individuals on the sole basis of
their incarceration status. In response, the IRS updated its EIP FAQs on its website citing the
court ruling and providing information on how these individuals can claim their EIP. Individuals
were instructed to use the IRS Nonfiler tool by November 21, 2020, or mail a simplified Tax Year
2019 paper tax return to the IRS by the court-ordered deadline of November 4, 2020. In
addition, the IRS provided information to correctional facilities regarding the court ruling,
including information on how to submit the simplified paper tax return, and took steps to
ensure that individuals whose payments had been held, intercepted, or returned receive a
payment.


Processes Have Been Established to Identify Fraudulent Tax Return Filings to
Receive an Economic Impact Payment
The IRS recognized that the issuance of the EIPs created a new risk for tax-related identity theft
as these payments would be issued to eligible individuals who do not normally file a tax return.
As we noted earlier, the IRS developed a simplified Tax Year 2019 tax return that these
individuals could file to receive their EIP. ******2**************************************************
**************************************************2**************************************************
**************************************************2**************************************************
********2*******.
In response, the IRS developed specific filters to identify potentially fraudulent EIP nonfiler
return filings. ***********************************2**************************************************
**************************************************2**************************************************
**************************************************2**************************************************
**************************************************2**************************************************
**************************************************2*******.
Once questionable returns are identified, an IRS team manually reviews these returns before
they are released for regular processing. This verification includes evaluating these returns using
existing IRS identity theft processes to authenticate the identity of the tax return filer. As of
November 11, 2020, the IRS identified 457,325 questionable tax returns associated with the EIP
and determined that 38,273 returns were fraudulent with the EIPs. The IRS does not have an


                                                                                              Page 13
                                    Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


estimate of the fraudulent EIPs protected. However, using the maximum payment of $1,200, we
estimate the amount protected is nearly $46 million.


Economic Impact Payment 2
In response to the enactment of the CAA, the IRS issued 147 million EIP2 payments totaling
$142 billion on December 29, 2020. IRS management stated that they had only two calendar
days after enactment to issue the second stimulus payments before the IRS shut down its
processing systems, including those involved in calculating and issuing the EIPs, to make the
programming changes needed for the upcoming filing season. The system responsible for
calculating and issuing the EIPs was not brought back online until January 25, 2021. As such, the
IRS was limited to this bulk payment issuance. Eligible individuals who were not issued an EIP2
on December 29, 2020, will receive the additional payment when they file their Tax Year 2020 tax
return and claim the Recovery Rebate Credit.
The IRS also stated that while it was able to issue 147 million EIP2 payments in December 2020,
it could take many weeks for payments that must be issued as a paper check or debit card to be
distributed to taxpayers. This delay is the result of a limitation on the number of nondirect
deposit payments the BFS can process each week.

TIGTA’s interim report identified concerns related to the issuance of the EIP1 to
temporary bank accounts
In our June 2020 interim report, we identified and brought to IRS management’s attention that
multiple EIP deposits were being sent to the same bank account. Specifically, our analysis
identified 49,141 payments totaling $75 million associated with 8,793 unique bank accounts that
received four or more direct deposit EIPs. We first notified the IRS of our concerns on
April 15, 2020. According to IRS management, some of these payments occurred because the
computer programming intended to prevent multiple direct deposit of payments into the same
bank accounts was not used to calculate and issue the EIPs. Furthermore, many taxpayers who
used temporary bank accounts, typically associated with refund products, 10 provided the
temporary bank account numbers instead of their true bank account numbers. In response, the
IRS developed programming that identified payments associated with tax accounts that had a
refund product indicator on the tax account and sent a paper check rather than attempting to
send a direct deposit.
IRS management noted that in many of these instances, the tax preparation company did not
provide the bank account belonging to the taxpayer (referred to as the Ultimate Bank Account
(UBA)) on the tax return or erroneously provided the temporary bank account number as the
taxpayer’s UBA. As such, when the IRS created its payment files using the UBA from these tax
returns, the UBA was not the correct bank account for the taxpayers. This resulted in payments
being rejected by the banks and led to the IRS reissuing these payments in paper check or debit
card format, further delaying taxpayers’ access to the payments.




10
   Banking products typically offered by tax preparers in which the tax preparation fees are automatically deducted
from the tax refund.
                                                                                                            Page 14
                                    Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


A data error resulted in some EIP2 payments being incorrectly sent to temporary bank
accounts
Shortly after the IRS issued the EIP2 payments, individuals began reporting that the Get My
Payment tool showed that their EIP2 was deposited in a bank account that they did not
recognize. According to the IRS, similar to the first EIP, some EIP2 payments were issued to
temporary bank accounts typically associated with various products that are offered by tax
return preparation companies. The IRS stated that individuals who use these products have
their refund deposited into a temporary bank account where authorized fees, tax preparation
fees, etc. are removed from the refund before the refund is deposited into the taxpayer’s own
bank account.
In preparation for additional anticipated stimulus legislation, the IRS initiated an effort in the
summer of 2020 to correct UBA information on certain taxpayers’ accounts so that future EIPs
could be issued as a direct deposit. However, due to an IRS data error, the taxpayers’ accounts
were incorrectly updated with the temporary bank accounts. In December 2020, the IRS issued
nearly 13 million EIP2 payments to these temporary bank accounts rather than to the correct
UBA for these taxpayers.
Once the issue was identified, the IRS immediately began working with financial industry
partners to resolve the issue, and some industry partners were able to redirect the EIP2 to the
true bank accounts belonging to the affected taxpayers. While some of these payments were
redirected to the taxpayers’ true bank accounts, many payments were rejected by the banks and
returned to the IRS. The IRS has taken steps to identify and correct the bank account
information associated with 2.88 million individuals whose payments were sent incorrectly to a
temporary bank account. IRS management noted that these 2.88 million payments will be
reissued as direct deposits no later than February 3, 2021, to these taxpayers. When we
questioned how the IRS could reissue these payments past the deadline set in the legislation of
January 15, 2021, IRS management explained that IRS Office of Chief Counsel determined that
the IRS can continue to reissue payments if the payment was initially sent prior to the cut-off
date set by law. However, the IRS cannot initiate any new payments after the cutoff date of
January 15, 2021.
As part of its efforts to reissue direct deposit payments to the previously mentioned population
of individuals, the IRS also plans to reissue approximately 2 million EIP2 payments as a paper
check. These include individuals who received a debit card and could not pass the
authentication process to activate the card, as well as individuals who had their direct deposit
payment rejected and the IRS does not have updated bank account information for them.

The IRS is making continued efforts to improve UBA information
Recognizing that using an incorrect UBA to send taxpayers their EIPs causes undue burden on
taxpayers, the IRS has and continues to undertake initiatives to improve the reporting of the
UBA as well as identifying other sources of valid UBAs associated with taxpayers. The IRS
continued to work with its Security Summit partners 11 during Calendar Year 2020 to improve the
submission of bank account information and expand the number of future payments that can be
issued as a direct deposit using taxpayers’ UBA. For example, one such effort resulted in the IRS

11
  Collaboration effort between the IRS and industry partners such as H&R Block, Intuit, Thomson Reuters, Drake
Software, and Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting.
                                                                                                          Page 15
                               Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


changing the requirement for the UBA field for Tax Year 2020 and future returns to require
preparers/software providers to include a “T” in the first digit of the UBA if the account in that
field is a temporary bank account (such as for a debit card product). The IRS has also performed
mock testing on the use of this information to prevent future EIPs from going to temporary
bank accounts should it be required to issue additional payments.
Another initiative involves the IRS working with the BFS to identify approximately 13 million
individuals who received a paper EIP check for which the BFS had a direct deposit number.
These individuals receive Government benefits via direct deposit from Federal agencies other
than the SSA and the VA. However, IRS management noted that they cannot use these bank
accounts to issue future EIPs as a direct deposit without specific legislation. Current legislation
only authorizes the IRS to obtain direct deposit information from the SSA, the RRB, and the VA
for issuing the EIPs. If the IRS can get authority to proactively coordinate with all Federal
agencies to identify their beneficiaries, the IRS believes it can significantly expand the number of
direct deposit EIPs it can issue for individuals it knows about and possibly identify additional
eligible individuals should future payments be required.
We will continue to monitor the IRS’s efforts to resolve this issue as part of our ongoing work to
assess the IRS’s issuance of the EIPs and processing of Recovery Rebate Credit claims on Tax
Year 2020 tax returns.




                                                                                            Page 16
                              Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


                                                                                   Appendix I
                 Detailed Objective, Scope, and Methodology
The overall objective of this audit was to assess the IRS’s EIP outreach and assistance to
individuals, accuracy of the computation of the payment, and adequacy of controls to prevent
ineligible individuals from receiving a payment. To accomplish our objective, we:
   •   Assessed the IRS’s outreach and assistance to individuals regarding the EIPs.
   •   Used the payment criteria included in the CARES Act and developed a systemic program
       to assess whether the IRS calculated the EIP correctly.
   •   Analyzed EIP payment files and identified any individual directly and/or indirectly
       receiving more than one EIP.
   •   Analyzed EIP payment files and identified any individual potentially ineligible for the EIP.
   •   Determined whether the IRS has controls and processes to detect fraudulent simplified
       Tax Year 2019 returns.

Performance of This Review
This review was performed with information obtained from the Wage and Investment Division
Headquarters; Accounts Management function; Customer Assistance, Relationships, and
Education function; and Return Integrity and Compliance Services function in Atlanta, Georgia;
the Wage and Investment Division Submission Processing function offices in Cincinnati, Ohio;
and the Information Technology organization in Lanham, Maryland, during the period
March through December 2020. We conducted this performance audit in accordance with
generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and
perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for
our findings and conclusions based on our audit objective. We believe that the evidence
obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit
objective.
Major contributors to the report were Russell P. Martin, Assistant Inspector General for
Audit (Returns Processing and Account Services); Deann L. Baiza, Director; Ngan B. Tang,
Audit Manager; Karen C. Fulte, Senior Auditor; Brieane K. Hamaoka, Senior Auditor;
Tracy M. Hernandez, Senior Auditor; Robert J. Howes, Senior Auditor; Jane G. Lee, Senior
Auditor; David P. Robben, Senior Auditor; Heidi C. Turbyfill, Senior Auditor; Linda M. Valentine,
Senior Auditor; Michael J. Bibler, Auditor; Laura R. Christoffersen, Auditor; James M. Allen,
Information Technology Specialist; Karen A. Brown, Information Technology Specialist;
Hong Cao, Information Technology Specialist; Shannon D. Cummings, Information Technology
Specialist; Meera B. Dave, Information Technology Specialist; Cheryl F. Joneckis, Information
Technology Specialist; Donald J. Meyer, Information Technology Specialist; Johnathan D. Elder,
Information Technology Specialist, Applied Research and Technology; and Laura P. Haws,
Information Technology Specialist, Applied Research and Technology.




                                                                                             Page 17
                              Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


Validity and Reliability of Data From Computer-Based Systems
During this review, we obtained extracts from the Individual Master File for Tax Years 2018, 2019,
and 2020; the Individual Return Transaction File for Processing Years 2019 and 2020; the
Information Returns Master File for Tax Years 2018 and 2019; the Prisoner File for Processing
Year 2019; Individual Master File Refund Files; and the National Account Profile for Processing
Years 2019 and 2020 that were available on TIGTA’s Data Center Warehouse. We obtained the
Social Security SSI and VA beneficiary recipient files from the IRS. We also obtained data from
the IRS which detailed the specific individuals who were issued an EIP by each U.S. Territory
between May and July 2020. Before relying on the data, we ensured that each file contained the
specific data elements we requested. In addition, we selected judgmental samples of each
extract and verified that the data in the extracts were the same as the data captured in the
Integrated Data Retrieval System. We also performed analysis to ensure the validity and
reasonableness of our data, such as ranges of dollar values and obvious invalid values. Based on
the results of our tests, we believe that the data used in our review were reliable.

Internal Controls Methodology
Internal controls relate to management’s plans, methods, and procedures used to meet their
mission, goals, and objectives. Internal controls include the processes and procedures for
planning, organizing, directing, and controlling program operations. They also include the
systems for measuring, reporting, and monitoring program performance. We determined that
the following internal controls were relevant to our audit objective: the process for planning,
organizing, directing, and controlling program operations for the issuance of the EIPs. We
evaluated these controls by meeting with IRS management, reviewing IRS procedures, and
reviewing IRS reports.




                                                                                          Page 18
                              Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


                                                                                Appendix II
                                   Outcome Measures
This appendix presents detailed information on the measurable impact that our recommended
corrective actions will have on tax administration. These benefits will be incorporated into our
Semiannual Report to Congress.

Type and Value of Outcome Measure:
   •   Cost Savings (Funds Put to Better Use) – Potential; 1,437,531 payments totaling more
       than $2.5 billion that were issued to individuals who were deceased
       (see Recommendation 1).

Methodology Used to Measure the Reported Benefit:
We obtained extracts from the Individual Master File for Tax Years 2018, 2019, and 2020; the
Individual Return Transaction File for Processing Years 2019 and 2020; the Information Returns
Master File for Tax Years 2018 and 2019; Individual Master File Refund Files; and the National
Account Profile for Processing Years 2019 and 2020.
Our computer analyses of payments that were issued as of July 16, 2020, identified
2,174,616 payments totaling $3,473,925,623 that were issued to individuals who were deceased.
To be conservative, we removed all payments that were included in more than one type of
erroneous payment to arrive at 2,162,253 payments totaling $3,446,380,335. We then analyzed
the Individual Master File as of October 1, 2020, and removed 665,286 payments totaling
$867,284,737 that have been cancelled by the bank or returned to the IRS as undeliverable. We
also removed 59,436 payments totaling $72,101,945 that were voluntarily returned by the
individuals. We finally arrived at 1,437,531 payments totaling $2,506,993,653 that were issued to
individuals who were deceased.

Type and Value of Outcome Measure:
   •   Cost Savings (Funds Put to Better Use) – Potential; 1,809,068 payments totaling more
       than $1.3 billion that were issued to individuals due to dependent-related issue
       (see Recommendation 2).

Methodology Used to Measure the Reported Benefit:
We obtained extracts from the Individual Master File for Tax Years 2018, 2019, and 2020; the
Individual Return Transaction File for Processing Years 2019 and 2020; the Information Returns
Master File for Tax Years 2018 and 2019; Individual Master File Refund Files; and the National
Account Profile for Processing Years 2019 and 2020. We obtained the Social Security SSI and
VA beneficiary recipient files from the IRS.
Our computer analyses of payments that were issued as of July 16, 2020, identified
1,844,846 potentially erroneous payments totaling $1,405,260,151 due to dependent-related
issue. These included:



                                                                                          Page 19
                              Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


       o   1,099,460 payments in which dependents claimed on the returns who were older
           than 16 and/or Individual TIN in Calendar Year 2020 and received $553,698,780.
       o   388,023 payments in which Social Security Retirement, Social Security SSI, and VA
           beneficiaries received the EIP based on SSA/RRB/SSI/VA data totaling $465,627,600
           and were also claimed as a dependent on a tax return.
       o   269,384 payments totaling $341,944,271 in which the individual was a dependent on
           someone else’s return and filed their own tax return. These individuals did not check
           the box on their tax return indicating they can be claimed as a dependent.
       o   87,979 payments due to the dependent being used on multiple returns. We initially
           identified 87,745 unique dependent TINs that were used as a dependent on more
           than one tax return, and the IRS issued a qualifying child payment on each of those
           returns. These TINs were used on 175,724 tax returns resulting in 175,724 payments.
           Because one of the instances in which the same dependent is used more than once is
           a legitimate payment for the EIP, the difference between 175,724 less than unique list
           of dependent SSNs (87,745) equals the 87,979 excess dependent-related payments
           paid to duplicate primary taxpayers. Because eligible individuals can receive up to
           $500 for each child in their family who is under 17 years old, we estimated
           $43,989,500 (87,979 x $500) for qualifying children claimed on more than one tax
           return.
To be conservative, we removed all payments that were included in more than one type of
erroneous payment to arrive at 1,822,276 payments totaling $1,389,755,654. We then analyzed
the Individual Master File as of October 1, 2020, and removed 12,394 payments totaling
$18,950,728 that have been cancelled by the bank or returned to the IRS as undeliverable. We
also removed 814 payments totaling $1,057,457 that were voluntarily returned by the
individuals. We finally arrived at 1,809,068 payments totaling $1,369,747,469 that were issued to
individuals due to dependent-related issue.

       Management’s Response: IRS management disagreed with the outcome measure
       stating that the outcome includes almost 1.1 million payments for $553.6 million for
       dependents who were older than 16 years of age at the end of 2020 but were not older
       than 16 years during the respective tax year on which the EIPs were based. Under the
       CARES Act, the advance payment of the Recovery Rebate Credit, or EIP, is determined as
       the amount that would have been allowed as a credit for the applicable base tax year
       had the provision been applicable to such taxable year. Therefore, dependents not
       above 16 years of age for the year of the tax return used to calculate the EIP, either 2018
       or 2019, are qualifying children and were appropriately included in the total EIP amount.

              Office of Audit Comment: The CARES Act authorizes the IRS to use a Tax
              Year 2018 or 2019 tax return to determine eligibility for the EIP. However, we
              believe the IRS also has a responsibility to use the data it has available to prevent
              knowingly issuing improper payments to the extent possible.




                                                                                           Page 20
                              Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


Type and Value of Outcome Measure:
   •   Cost Savings (Funds Put to Better Use) – Actual; 310,496 payments totaling more than
       $424 million that were issued to potential ineligible nonresidents (see page 5).

Methodology Used to Measure the Reported Benefit:
We obtained extracts from the Individual Master File for Tax Years 2018, 2019, and 2020; the
Individual Return Transaction File for Processing Years 2019 and 2020; the Information Returns
Master File for Tax Years 2018 and 2019; Individual Master File Refund Files; and the National
Account Profile for Processing Years 2019 and 2020.
Our computer analyses of payments that were issued as of July 16, 2020, identified
324,864 payments totaling $443,707,295 issued to potential ineligible nonresidents. These
individuals’ SSN indicates they are a legal alien authorized to work in the United States.
However, these individuals had no FICA tax withheld from their wages in Calendar Year 2018 or
2019.
To be conservative, we removed all payments that were included in more than one type of
erroneous payment to arrive at 323,248 payments totaling $440,203,814. We then analyzed the
Individual Master File as of October 1, 2020, and removed 10,399 payments totaling $12,925,592
that have been cancelled by the bank or returned to the IRS as undeliverable. We also removed
2,353 payments totaling $2,872,237 that were voluntarily returned by the individuals. We finally
arrived at 310,496 payments totaling $424,405,985 that were issued to potential ineligible
nonresidents.

       Management’s Response: IRS management disagreed with the outcome measure
       stating that the methodology used to make the determination relies on the absence of
       FICA tax payments withheld from wages earned by authorized legal aliens during Tax
       Year 2018 or 2019. The exemption from employer withholding of FICA taxes is not a
       proxy for an individual’s status as a resident alien or a nonresident alien. In fact, both
       nonresident and resident aliens performing services in the United States are generally
       subject to FICA tax unless a specific exclusion applies. While the potentially improper
       EIPs identified may include many nonresident aliens, the measure also likely includes
       many resident aliens who legitimately had no FICA tax withholding. Had the IRS denied
       the EIP to all aliens who were either exempt from FICA tax withholding or who
       performed work exempt from FICA tax withholding, many eligible resident aliens would
       not have received the credit. That would not be legally correct. Nor is it correct to count
       as improper every EIP issued to an alien who was either exempt from FICA tax
       withholding or who performed work exempt from FICA tax withholding.
              Office of Audit Comment: We agree there are exceptions in which a valid
              foreign person could be considered a resident alien and not subject to FICA tax.
              However, we are unable to identify individuals with these exceptions with the
              available tax return data.




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                               Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


Type and Value of Outcome Measure:
   •   Cost Savings (Funds Put to Better Use) – Actual; 53,012 payments totaling $82,485,047
       that were issued to individuals in the five U.S. Territories who have already received a
       stimulus payment from the IRS (see page 5).

Methodology Used to Measure the Reported Benefit:
We obtained extracts from the Individual Master File for Tax Years 2018, 2019, and 2020; the
Individual Return Transaction File for Processing Years 2019 and 2020; the Information Returns
Master File for Tax Years 2018 and 2019; Individual Master File Refund Files; and the National
Account Profile for Processing Years 2019 and 2020. We obtained the Social Security SSI and VA
beneficiary recipient files from the IRS. We also obtained data from the IRS that detail the
specific individuals who were issued an EIP by each U.S. Territory between May 2020 and
July 2020.
Our computer analyses of payments that were issued as of July 16, 2020, identified
61,119 payments totaling $92,198,662 that were issued to 59,946 individuals in the five U.S.
Territories who have already received a stimulus payment from the IRS.
To be conservative, we removed all payments that were included in more than one type of
erroneous payment to arrive at 59,056 payments totaling $91,895,089. We then analyzed the
Individual Master File as of October 1, 2020, and removed 3,672 payments totaling $5,799,210
that have been cancelled by the bank or returned to the IRS as undeliverable. We also removed
2,372 payments totaling $3,610,832 that were voluntarily returned by the individuals. We finally
arrived at 53,012 payments totaling $82,485,047 that were issued to individuals in the five U.S.
Territories who have already received a stimulus payment from the IRS.

Type and Value of Outcome Measure:
   •   Cost Savings (Funds Put to Better Use) – Actual; 46,165 payments totaling $68,608,265
       that were issued to individuals who had changes in their filing statuses (see page 5).

Methodology Used to Measure the Reported Benefit:
We obtained extracts from the Individual Master File for Tax Years 2018, 2019, and 2020; the
Individual Return Transaction File for Processing Years 2019 and 2020; the Information Returns
Master File for Tax Years 2018 and 2019; Individual Master File Refund Files; and the National
Account Profile for Processing Years 2019 and 2020.
Our analysis of payments issued as May 21, 2020, identified 46,759 payments totaling
$69,434,647 that were issued to individuals who filed as Married Filing Jointly in Tax Year 2018
as the secondary taxpayer on a tax return and filed as Single, i.e., Single, Head of Household,
Qualifying Widow(er), or Married Filing Separately, in Tax Year 2019 as the primary taxpayer on a
tax return, or filed as Single in Tax Year 2018 as the primary taxpayer on a tax return and filed as
Married Filing Jointly in Tax Year 2019 as the secondary on a tax return. We subsequently
updated our analysis of payments issued as of July 16, 2020, and identified four additional
payments for a total of 46,763 payments totaling $69,440,447 that were issued to individuals
whose filing status changed between Tax Year 2018 and Tax Year 2019.



                                                                                           Page 22
                               Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


To be conservative, we removed all payments that were included in more than one type of
erroneous payment to arrive at 46,671 payments totaling $69,270,875. We then analyzed the
Individual Master File as of October 1, 2020, and removed 176 payments totaling $232,817 that
have been cancelled by the bank or returned to the IRS as undeliverable. We also removed
330 payments totaling $429,793 that were voluntarily returned by the individuals. We finally
arrived at 46,165 payments totaling $68,608,265 that were issued to individuals who filed as
Married Filing Jointly in Tax Year 2018 as the secondary taxpayer on a tax return and filed as
Single, i.e., Single, Head of Household, Qualifying Widow(er), or Married Filing Separately, in Tax
Year 2019 as the primary taxpayer on a tax return, or filed as Single in Tax Year 2018 as the
primary taxpayer on a tax return and filed as Married Filing Jointly in Tax Year 2019 as the
secondary on a tax return.




                                                                                           Page 23
        Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


                                                     Appendix III
Notice 1444, Your Economic Impact Payment




                                                           Page 24
        Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


                                                     Appendix IV
Management’s Response to the Draft Report




                                                           Page 25
Implementation of Economic Impact Payments




                                             Page 26
                         Implementation of Economic Impact Payments




                                                 3


social media postings, and more than 500 informational postings on IRS.gov. With
assistance from partners in the tax professional community, the IRS provided key EIP
information translated into 35 different languages. Our social media channels saw an
increase of nearly a half-million new followers during the height of the pandemic. Social
media quickly became a major source for delivering messages, with innovative graphics
and materials shared and used by groups across the nation. We also worked to share
information with Facebook on its COVID-19 Information Center and with Google to
prioritize top searches to direct users to IRS.gov.

We disagree with the finding and related outcome measure that that nearly 1.8 million
payments attributable to dependents, totaling nearly $1.4 billion, were potentially
erroneous. The outcome measure includes almost 1.1 million payments for $553.6
million for dependents who were older than 16 years of age at the end of 2020 but were
not older than 16 years during the respective tax year on which the EIPs were based.
Under the CARES Act, the advance payment of the Recovery Rebate Credit, or EIP, is
determined as the amount that would have been allowed as a credit for the applicable
base tax year had the provision been applicable to such taxable year.2 Therefore,
dependents not above 16 years of age for the year of the tax return used to calculate the
EIP, either 2018 or 2019, are qualifying children and were appropriately included in
the total EIP amount.

The remainder of the outcome measure includes individuals who received an EIP but
were claimed as a dependent on another return or who did not receive EIPs but were
claimed as dependents on more than one return by other individuals. As mandated by
the CARES Act, the EIPs were to be issued “as rapidly as possible”3. To accomplish this
objective, information readily available from previously processed 2018 and 2019 tax
returns was used, on an individual basis, to determine eligibility and calculate payment
amounts. In all cases where tax return information was used, the taxpayers declared
under penalties of perjury that they had examined their returns, accompanying
schedules and statements and, to the best of their knowledge and belief, they were true,
correct, and complete. The IRS has compliance processes that identify multiple uses of
the same Taxpayer Identification Number across multiple returns; ************2************
************************************************2***************************************************
************************************************2***************************************************
************************************************2***************************************************
************************************************2***************************************************
**********************2********************.

We also disagree with the finding and associated outcome measure that 310,496
payments totaling $424 million were sent to ineligible individuals. The methodology used
to make that determination relies on the absence of Federal Insurance Contributions Act
(FICA) payments withheld from wages earned by authorized legal
2   Internal Revenue Code (IRC) § 6428(f)(2).
3   IRC § 6428(f)(3)(A).




                                                                                                       Page 27
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                                             Page 28
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                                             Page 29
                         Implementation of Economic Impact Payments




                                                 2


CORRECTIVE ACTION
The Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) are calculated and disbursed based on select
tax return information stored within the Master File, the official system of record for tax
assessments and payments. ***************2**************************************************
************************************************2**************************************************.
Implementing a process to do so would not guarantee a payment to an unentitled
individual would be stopped as the subsequent use of the dependent by the entitled
person may not occur until after the first person’s return has been processed and the
EIP issued. In effect, this would harm the rightful individuals by denying payment to
them. ******************************************2**************************************************
*************************************************2**************************************************
***2***.

IMPLEMENTATION DATE
N/A

RESPONSIBLE OFFICIAL
N/A

CORRECTIVE ACTION MONITORING PLAN
N/A




                                                                                                       Page 30
                               Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


                                                                                      Appendix V
                                     Glossary of Terms

Term                        Definition
                            The IRS database that maintains transactions or records of individual tax
Individual Master File
                            accounts.
Individual Return           A database the IRS maintains that contains information on the individual tax
Transaction File            returns it receives.
Integrated Data Retrieval   IRS computer system capable of retrieving or updating stored information.
System                      It works in conjunction with a taxpayer’s account records.
                            A compilation of selected entity data from various IRS Master Files and the
National Account Profile
                            SSA.
                            A 12-month accounting period for keeping records on income and
Tax Year                    expenses used as the basis for calculating the annual taxes due. For most
                            individual taxpayers, the tax year is synonymous with the calendar year.




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             Implementation of Economic Impact Payments


                                                             Appendix VI
                      Abbreviations

BFS         Bureau of the Fiscal Service
CAA         Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021
CARES Act   Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
COVID-19    Coronavirus Disease 2019
EIP         Economic Impact Payment
FAQ         Frequently Asked Question
FICA        Federal Insurance Contributions Act
IRS         Internal Revenue Service
RRB         Railroad Retirement Board
SSA         Social Security Administration
SSI         Supplemental Security Income
SSN         Social Security Number
TIGTA       Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
TIN         Taxpayer Identification Number
UBA         Ultimate Bank Account
VA          Department of Veteran Affairs




                                                                   Page 32
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