Where's Your Economic Stimulus Check?

| Fri Jun. 27, 2008 3:02 PM EDT

However my liberal friends and I may have tsk'd the Bush administration for claiming that $600 checks would save America, we broke liberals sure were excited to get our hands on that money. Congress passed the Economic Stimulus Act in February, giving the IRS a couple months to get payments to some 130 million taxpayers when it was already in the middle of filing season, and giving some 130 millions taxpayers reason to start freaking out about when—when?!—they were going to get their supplement. Thus, I wasn't shocked when I called to do just that and a recording told me that the IRS is currently experiencing heavy call volume and led me though an automated menu that ultimately told me to keep my pants on for three more weeks, and hung up. I had to wonder: How bad must the ESA suck for the IRS?

Pretty bad, according to testimony of national taxpayer advocate Nina E. Olson before the House last week. The IRS hauled ass to develop new programming code, create new pages and a stimulus calculator on its website, mail notices to more than 100 million taxpayers, mail information packages to 20 million more, develop outreach initiatives for seniors, and staff 700 walk-in sites in a "Super Saturday" assistance bonanza. By the first week of June, the IRS had received 27.7 million calls concerning economic stimulus payments. For that same week, call attempts were up 279 percent versus the same period last year. The level of service on the economic stimulus hotline was 30 percent. To deal, the IRS has shifted so many employees from account management and collections that collections will be reduced by $565 million.

Olson worried about the effects of delays and exceptions on taxpayers in her testimony, but admitted that, overall, the IRS is doing a pretty amazing job. Only 1,500 economic stimulus checks have been transmitted in the wrong bank account. About 350,000 people didn't get the additional funds for their dependents. About 20 million taxpayers who purchased refund anticipation loans or checks will get their checks tardily. Even those errors, the IRS says, will be rectified by mid-July. According to the IRS Web schedule, my check would be "mailed no later than (and received a few days after)" May 16. The agency sent me a letter on June 9 saying that I could expect to receive it by June 13. I called fruitlessly a few days after that, and my check came shortly after. So where's your check? It's probably coming. Keep your pants on for three more weeks.

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