Why Your $1,200 Check May Be Late

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Illustration by Peter Grabowski

In a stunning move this week, the Treasury Department ordered President Trump’s name appear on all stimulus checks being sent out to Americans in the coming weeks.

First reported by The Washington Post and later confirmed by other outlets, the last minute change may delay the the first round of checks by a few days according to two IRS officials.

The technology team in charge of implementing the policy wasn’t notified of the decision until recently, only increasing the odds of a delay in the issuance of the checks.

“Any last-minute request like this will create a downstream snarl that will result in a delay,” said Chad Hooper, a quality control manager and national president of the IRS’ Professional Managers Association.

About five million checks were to be issued weekly, starting with the lowest-income taxpayers. A delay of at least a few days would therefore impact those in the lowest tax brackets.

A president’t name has never appeared on an IRS check before. Given that President Trump lacks the authority to sign the checks himself, his name will instead appear on the memo line of the check.

Although he couldn’t sign the checks himself, he did try. Three officials told The Washington Post that Trump had approached Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to see if a copy of his signature could appear on the signature line itself.

“Delaying direct payments to vulnerable families just to print his name on the check is another shameful example of President Trump’s catastrophic failure to treat this crisis with the urgency it demands,” Speaker Pelosi tweeted Wednesday.

The government denies that the checks will be delayed.

Trump initially resisted direct payments to taxpayers, instead electing to endorse a payroll tax cut. Now, President Trump refers to these stimulus checks as a “Trump Administration Initiative.”

This delay possesses all the necessary ingredients of Trumpian impropriety: an unabashed ego, the corrupting of institutions, unnecessary pain to the poorest Americans, a reversal of tradition, and claiming ownership of an idea that at best was not his and at worst he was initially hostile to.

The perfect Trumpian microcosm.

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