Stimulus Check Delays Branded 'Outrageous,' IRS Urged to Expedite Payments

Issues with delivering stimulus checks issued under the CARES Act have been branded outrageous, with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) facing calls to expedite delayed payments.

Payments of up to $1,200 per person began being sent to eligible individuals after President Donald Trump signed the bill in March, though lawmakers have complained of people still awaiting their money months later.

The Treasury said in June that 159 million economic impact payments had been made, though acknowledged there were still people awaiting them, suggesting some needed to take further action contacting the IRS in order to receive their funds.

A House Ways and Means Committee report in June estimated 30 to 35 million payments were still due to be made at that time, while a Taxpayer Advocate Service report suggested many people still waiting for their payment could face delays until next year.

As lawmakers turn attention to a second stimulus check, with Senate GOP proposals suggesting another round similar to the CARES Act, voices in Congress continue to push for answers to those awaiting their first.

Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) said many of his constituents were still awaiting payments and called upon the IRS to speed up delivering those.

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"The stimulus checks provide timely and critical relief to families and individuals across our country who are struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic," he said, describing the situation as outrageous.

"But many constituents have told me they were forced to wait months for their stimulus checks or are yet to receive them at all."

He said when his office questioned the IRS over this responses have been "wholly inadequate."

"This is unacceptable," he said. "Families are unable to make ends meet, workers are choosing between keeping the lights on and buying groceries, and people have been laid off and are wondering where their next meal will come from.

"My constituents are in dire need of urgent assistance. The IRS must act immediately to expedite these stimulus checks so the American people can get through this tumultuous time."

In a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, Ruiz reiterated this call.

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People walk through a shuttered business district in Brooklyn on May 12, 2020 in New York City. Stimulus checks have been issued to support people struggling financially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The message, shared with Newsweek, said: "I ask that you direct your agency to expeditiously resolve any issues with outstanding congressional inquiries so that the American people can finally receive the much-needed assistance that the CARES Act was designed to provide."

Newsweek has contacted the IRS and the Treasury for comment.

Ruiz's comments come after he joined a call from more than 70 members of Congress for the IRS to assess the situation and "take immediate action to speed the delivery of these payments."

With these payments still pending, a second round of checks is being called for across Congress, with suggestions these could be distributed in August if a stimulus package is signed off soon.

However, Democrats and Republicans are still wrangling over the details of further relief measures and there is also in-fighting among GOP lawmakers on the issue.

Polling has regularly indicated people across America largely support the idea of another round of payments.

Another survey indicated nearly 50 percent of households across the U.S. saw their income suffer amid the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the U.S., with more than 150,000 deaths of coronavirus victims across the nation.

Surges have seen some areas pause or reverse reopening plans, further adding to economic hardship as businesses struggle to return to normality.

The chart below, from Statista, shows a number of states said to be in the "red zone" in regards to cases.

Coronavirus Red Zone States
States with more than 100 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people as of July 24. Statista
Stimulus Check Delays Branded 'Outrageous,' IRS Urged to Expedite Payments | U.S.