A lot of people across the country are waking up this week to find a $1200 (per individual adult) deposit in their bank account as the IRS has started rolling out the first wave of the coronavirus stimulus money that’s definitely not enough but better than nothing.
For those who don’t have their bank account info on file with the IRS, they’ve launched a tool that will let you update that information so you can get the money via direct deposit.
But an estimated tens of millions of people—many of them low income or elderly—will have to wait for paper checks. Those were already going to be severely delayed: They’re scheduled to start being sent out in late April or early May at a rate of 5 million per week, meaning many people won’t be getting theirs until the fall. And thanks to Donald Trump’s ego, that delay just got a little longer.
It was reported weeks ago that Trump wanted to have his signature on the stimulus checks but that’s not actually legal. These sorts of checks are typically signed by a civil servant in the Treasury Department and Trump isn’t authorized to sign this kind of legal disbursement.
But Trump apparently wouldn’t let it go. He’s constantly tweeting and talking about how no one says “thank you” to him enough, no one gives him enough credit for, as he seems to see it, saving America. Having his name on these checks would give the impression that he’s the reason people are getting money, as if it’s coming directly out of his pocket, and I guess we would all have no choice but to recognize his benevolence.
So instead of signing the checks, Trump’s name will reportedly appear in the memo line, right below a line reading “Economic Impact Payment.”
Having the president’s name on this kind of disbursement is unprecedented and it’s clearly meant to both benefit Trump’s ego and to give a partisan appearance to the money being received. And that’s likely to cause a delay for those waiting on this money.
The Treasury Department has denied there will be any delay but as the Washington Post writes, “Computer code must be changed to include the president’s name, and the system must be tested.”
The decision to have the paper checks bear Trump’s name, in the works for weeks, according to a Treasury official, was announced early Tuesday to the IRS’s information technology team. The team, working from home, is now racing to implement a programming change that two senior IRS officials said will probably lead to a delay in issuing the first batch of paper checks. They are scheduled to be sent Thursday to the Bureau of the Fiscal Service for printing and issuing.
A few days’ delay might not seem like much but many of the people receiving paper checks—those without direct deposit or permanent bank accounts—are those who need it most.
You are getting your money late because the President thinks it is more important that his name be on the check than that you are able to pay your bills on time. This is not a rhetorical flourish. The checks are delayed. Because Trump.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) April 15, 2020
By the way, if you didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019, that’s how the IRS decides if and how you get a stimulus payout so you can enter your information manually here. If you don’t have direct deposit set up with the IRS and don’t want to wait months to get a physical check with Trump’s name on it, you can do that here. You can also use that link to check the status of your payment if you haven’t received it yet.
(image: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
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