A new report by a government watchdog agency found that over a billion dollars in stimulus money allocated by the CARES Act was sent to deceased people. This news comes as stories surface about the government attempting to retract payments accidentally given to prisoners.
The Government Accountability Office found that as of April 30, nearly $1.4 billion had been sent to deceased individuals, in over a million separate payments.
According to Politico, the Internal Revenue Service was under the impression that checks should be mailed to the deceased, but quickly reversed the decision.
“The administration later reversed itself, and began trying to block payments going to the dead while asking survivors to return those that did slip through,” Politico reports. “The report does not say what prompted the agency to reverse course, when it decided to change direction or who made the decision.”
The agency was under pressure to get the payments out quickly and the “IRS counsel subsequently determined that IRS did not have the legal authority to deny payments to those who filed a return in 2019, even if they were deceased at the time of payment,” the GAO told Politico.
Prisoners also received the long-awaited ‘Trump check,’ and now the government wants them back, TIME reports. The group is not specifically excluded from receiving payments, creating a loophole for those behind bars to received old-age and survivor insurance benefit payments,” according to the report.
The IRS doesn’t have a clear indication of how much money was issued to prisoners, but according to TIME, The Kansas Department of Correction claims to have stopped over $200,000 in the checks by June, and, in Idaho in Montana, $90,000 of additional checks were obtained.
While deceased individuals and prisoners received money, many law-abiding and living Americans did not.
CNBC reported on information found by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimating 12 million people may not receive their stimulus checks. The report indicated that an estimated 159 million checks had already been sent out.
The report also named those who haven’t worked for a long period of time, low-income adults without children, and low-income families with children, as the highest at risk for not receiving the money.
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Swiss Bank Admits to $5.6 Billion Tax Evasion Scheme, Settles for $120 Million
Banque Pictet, the private banking arm of the Pictet Group based in Switzerland, has admitted to conspiring with U.S. taxpayers to hide billions of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in over 1,600 secret bank accounts. The Justice Department revealed on Monday that Banque Pictet has agreed to pay over $120 million in restitution to the U.S. Treasury as part of a settlement.
The bank’s involvement in the tax evasion scheme spanned from 2008 through 2014, during which it conspired with American taxpayer clients to conceal more than $5.6 billion of the approximately $20 billion in U.S. assets. This led to an evasion of around $50.6 million in U.S. taxes, according to prosecutors.
Of the $5.6 billion concealed, the funds were distributed across 1,637 accounts, implicating more than 40% of the total 3,736 private accounts owned by U.S. taxpayers held by the bank. Banque Pictet reportedly assisted its American clients in hiding their undeclared accounts through various means, including the formation and administration of offshore entities. Undeclared accounts were then maintained in the names of these entities on behalf of U.S. taxpayer clients.
Jim Lee, Chief of IRS Criminal Investigation, emphasized the importance of the case in sending a strong message to those attempting to hide assets and income offshore. Lee stated, “This case should provide a clear message to others who try to hide their assets and income offshore. Offshore tax evasion is a priority for IRS Criminal Investigation.”
The settlement underscores the ongoing efforts by U.S. authorities to combat tax evasion and sends a clear warning to financial institutions and individuals involved in such illicit activities. As regulatory scrutiny intensifies globally, financial institutions face increasing pressure to ensure compliance with international tax laws and prevent their involvement in tax evasion schemes.
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