The national president of an organization for IRS managers accused the Trump administration of abusing federal government resources by putting the president's name on paper stimulus checks due to be mailed out to Americans in the coming weeks.
Chad Hooper, national president of the IRS's Professional Managers Association (PMA), suggested to The Washington Post that changing the checks to add President Donald Trump's name could delay the IRS sending them out to households.
"In this time of need for additional resources, anything that takes our focus from getting those checks out the door and hampers the equitable, fair administration of the tax code is not something we can support," Hooper told the Post, calling it "an abuse of government resources."
According to the Post, senior IRS officials said the president's name will appear on the paper checks beneath "Economic Impact Payment" following a request by the Treasury Department. Those officials expressed concern that making the change will cause delays.
The Treasury Department denied this and said the checks will go out on time. "Economic Impact Payment checks are scheduled to go out on time and exactly as planned—there is absolutely no delay whatsoever," a Treasury spokesperson told Newsweek in a statement.
"In fact, we expect the first checks to be in the mail early next week which is well in advance of when the first checks went out in 2008 and well in advance of initial estimates.
"Treasury and the IRS have worked around the clock to get fast and direct economic assistance to hardworking Americans.
"During the 2008/09 financial crisis, it took the government almost two months to distribute 800,000 payments. So far, this Administration distributed more than 80 million payments in less than two and a half weeks. This in and of itself is a major achievement."
Hooper told Newsweek he has no direct knowledge of any delays but "reprogramming historically has led to delays."
He continued: "Our team at IRS always works very diligently to mitigate and minimize those delays and I hope the Treasury is correct, for the sake of those Americans in need of their paper refund check.
"Two PMA members with direct knowledge of the situation both advised me that this would lead to a delay. They were not able to speak to the expected duration. In that sense, the Treasury's position that there will not be a delay is plausible.
"The situation is fluid and our team works around the clock to try to make changes which would mitigate impact. As well, I think that the IRS's plan as previously reported to issue paper checks weekly means that it's likely the only batch of checks impacted by any delay, if any, would be the first batch.
"They are forecasted to arrive to taxpayers by April 24 and I hope that we can make that date."
The White House has also been asked for comment.
At Monday's press briefing by the president's Coronavirus Task Force, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said they are "ahead of schedule on delivering the economic impact payments."
Erin Hatch, a spokeswoman for the House Ways and Means Committee Democrats, told The New York Times: "The committee was not consulted about this and we do not want the checks to be delayed for a second to add the signature."
The stimulus checks formed part of the bipartisan $2.2 trillion package to ease the economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic recently passed by Congress after days of dealmaking between Democratic and Republican lawmakers, and senior officials in the Trump administration.
The president is attempting to take a large chunk of the credit for the stimulus checks as they hit Americans' bank accounts or arrive in paper form through letterboxes. However, the idea for payments did not first come from the president, and he originally favored a large payroll tax cut.
The IRS has already started directly depositing the payments into the accounts of people it holds information for from previous tax filings. For others whose payment details it does not hold, the IRS will start mailing paper checks from late April, prioritizing poorer households.
President George W. Bush's name was not added to the 2008 stimulus checks sent out to American households during the financial crisis and the IRS has resisted previous attempts to link presidents with its actions over concerns about politicizing the tax agency.
This article was updated with more comments by Chad Hooper and a statement by the Treasury Department.