Neal and Wyden Raise Concerns Over Treasury & IRS’s Incomplete and Insufficient Disbursement of Economic Impact Payments

Jul 27, 2020
Press Release
Only five percent of callers could reach IRS staff on the EIP help line, and the IRS’s designated mailbox for congressional offices has answered just 62 percent of incoming emails, leaving more than 13,000 emails unread
WASHINGTON, DC – Nearly four months after the first economic impact payment (EIP) was disbursed, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) urged the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to resolve all outstanding taxpayer-specific issues and immediately send these Americans their payments.
In early June, Treasury reported that approximately 159 million EIPs had been issued after initially estimating it would make 171 million payments in total. Since then, Treasury has made fewer than 1.5 million payments, a pace that the lawmakers said was “unacceptable.” Further, many Americans have been counted in Treasury’s disbursement numbers despite only receiving partial EIPs. This includes individuals who did not receive payment for dependents they properly registered on the non-filer portal. These mistakes along with flaws in programming and methodology are cause for concern, particularly with a new round of stimulus payments on the horizon.
“As the pandemic continues to ravage the nation, Americans cannot wait any longer for the emergency assistance they were told would arrive in the spring,” Neal and Wyden emphasized. “Treasury must take immediate and decisive action to pay all eligible Americans, including taxpayers who still await a payment date on the Get My Payment portal, individuals who have received a Notice 1444 but no payment, and non-filers who do not have the technological means to register on an online portal.”
Regarding the service Americans have received from the IRS, the lawmakers wrote: “We believe a critical first step is for the IRS to improve its existing platforms for handling EIP inquiries. Since Treasury began issuing EIPs, constituents and congressional offices alike have expressed much frustration about their inability to obtain resolution from the IRS.  Indeed, IRS officials recently reported that, as of July 10, the EIP phone line had received a staggering 15.4 million calls.  Of these callers, more than 14 million received an automated recording and almost 50,000 had their calls dropped.  Sadly, only 800,000—5% of all callers—were able to speak with IRS staff who had access to taxpayer-specific data after waiting an average of 36 minutes on hold.”
Neal and Wyden also noted that “the IRS’s designated mailbox for congressional offices has been largely unresponsive, as it appears that there is not enough staff designated to answer the massive volume of inquiries. Since the mailbox was opened in May, it received 25,000 inquiries by July 17, at a reported rate of about 700 to 1,000 new inquiries per day.  As of that date, about 15,500 emails had received a reply or been forwarded within the IRS for answers, and there were more than 13,000 unread emails in the mailbox.  Only recently did the IRS allocate additional staff to work constituent inquiries in the mailbox, but additional resources are necessary for the IRS to process the massive backlog immediately.”
The Chairman and Ranking Member concluded by acknowledging that: “Treasury and IRS employees have worked hard to implement the CARES Act, and we appreciate their efforts. However, for millions of American families in financial distress, every day that passes without an EIP compounds frustrations and financial worries. Their pleas become even more urgent now that they also may miss a second round of EIPs because of unresolved issues from the first payment.”
The full letter is available HERE.