Stimulus checks worth $3,200 went out to most Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the IRS says investigators have uncovered massive fraud. They have closed 660 criminal cases related to stimulus checks and the pandemic so far.
What does the IRS say?
According to the IRS Criminal Investigation division a ‘broad range’ of criminal activity was covered in the investigation. “These cases included a broad range of criminal activity, including fraudulently obtained loans, credits and payments meant for American workers, families, and small businesses,” the IRS said.
What are some examples of the fraud?
One criminal case prosecuted by the IRS involved the CEO of a nonprofit. Investigators say he lied about having 25 employees, and monthly payroll expenses of around $125,000. That CEO fraudulently received $300,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program. The Paycheck Protection Program was part of one stimulus package approved by Congress and signed into law in 2020.
There was another couple who used made-up and stolen identities to submit over 150 fraudulent loan applications.
How is the IRS dealing with stimulus fraud?
The Internal Revenue Service says it’s been a challenge. Despite receiving more than $21 million in funding as part of the omnibus spending package approved by Congress- there has been an overall reduction in the last decade.
In fact, the IRS has seen a 25% reduction of it’s own workforce in the last 10 years. That was particularly troubling for those who tried to file income tax returns in 2021- only to wait months, or nearly a year to receive a refund.
How much did the federal government spend on stimulus? Will there be another?
Altogether Congress approved spending more than $4.2 trillion in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which wiped out the U.S. economy for most of 2020. More than $3.6 trillion has been paid to Americans.
There have been talks of different kinds of stimulus programs for 2022. But the kind that Americans saw in 2020 and 2021, which sent checks to most of those who made under $75,000 are unlikely.
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