Congress last week approved legislation to send millions of Americans coronavirus relief payments and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that the money would start arriving “within three weeks.” The good news is that the IRS will be able to send the coronavirus rebates easily to the roughly 80% of tax filers who have provided the agency with their direct deposit information.
Complicating matters, The Washington Post’s Heather Long reports that the Trump administration is requiring Americans who get Social Security to file a tax return to receive their payment. And for millions of other Americans who haven’t provided the IRS with their direct deposit information or don’t have bank accounts, sending out those billions of dollars — and doing it “as rapidly as possible,” as the new law directs — requires overcoming some significant and long-standing tech challenges.
The Post’s Tony Romm reports that officials are scrambling to get it done and looking to set up a website to people to enter the data needed to get their checks:
“[T]he Treasury Department’s ability to meet that congressional mandate hinges on systems it is still bringing online. In a matter of days, federal officials must craft a website for some people to enter their banking information, beef up their security so that malicious actors can’t steal sensitive financial data, and brace to be bombarded by questions from Americans who aren’t sure what they’re owed and how to obtain the money. …
“But tight timelines — and the potential for tech troubles — suggest the payments could come out in a staggered fashion. Many Americans who already have bank account data on file with the government could receive payments quickly, but millions of others might have to wait months for the money, which can range up to $1,200 for an individual, depending on their income. …”
“The race to release $250 billion in coronavirus stimulus aid has cast a new light on a long-understood problem: The machinery of Washington often is lumbering, and in some cases, digitally deficient, complicating even the most well-intentioned attempts to provide Americans relief in an economic crisis.”