Why Are the COVID-19 Relief Stimulus Checks from the IRS Delayed for So Many Americans?

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In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment rates have risen sharply. To mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, many businesses have temporarily shuttered, employees have been furloughed and, in some cases, folks have lost their jobs outright. As April comes to a close, roughly 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment, leaving many to wonder how they will pay their bills or afford groceries. To help relieve the financial strain caused by the far-reaching complications of the novel coronavirus, federal lawmakers enacted a $2 trillion economic stimulus package, called the CARES Act, on March 27 that allowed for most Americans to receive checks of up to $1,200 to help navigate the COVID-19 pandemic fallout.

So far, roughly 90 million Americans have received their payments, and as of April 24, 2020, the IRS has paid out roughly $157.96 billion — more than half of the $290 billion that was set aside for Americans as part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act. But for many Americans, coping with the financial consequences of COVID-19 without that stimulus check is still a reality. The Washington Post reports that “Many still waiting for their $1,200 payment are low-income veterans and Social Security beneficiaries.” So, why the delay?