US: President Donald Trump wants his name on all COVID-19 relief checks to Americans
The Treasury Department has ordered President Donald Trump's name to be printed on all stimulus checks being sent to millions of Americans struggling financially because of coronavirus.
The unprecedented decision announced by the Treasury Department on late Monday, states that when recipients open the USD 1,200 paper checks, which the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is scheduled to begin sending to 70 million Americans in coming days, "President Donald J. Trump" will appear on the left side of the payment, The Washington Post reported.
It will be the first time when a president's name appears on an IRS disbursement, whether a routine refund or one of the handful of checks the government has issued to taxpayers in recent decades either to stimulate a down economy or share the dividends of a strong one.
The checks are the centerpiece of the US government's USD 2 trillion stimulus economic relief package to stave of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The package was passed by a bipartisan vote in Congress and signed by the President.
The Post reported that the decision is another sign of the president's effort to cast his response to the pandemic in political terms.
Three administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the newspaper that Trump had privately suggested to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who oversees the IRS, to formally sign the checks.
However, the president is not an authorised signer for legal disbursements by the US Treasury. It is standard practice for a civil servant to sign checks issued by the Treasury Department to ensure that government payments are nonpartisan, the media reported.
Computer code must be changed to include the president's name and the system must be tested, these officials said. "Any last-minute request like this will create a downstream snarl that will result in a delay," said Chad Hooper, a quality-control manager who serves as national president of the IRS's Professional Managers Association.
A Treasury Department spokeswoman, meanwhile, denied any delay and said the plan all along was to issue the checks next week.
Since the beginning, Trump has repeatedly called the legislation "a Trump administration initiative" and placed himself singularly at the center of what the government is doing to help Americans during the coronavirus response.
About 150 million Americans and others are expected to receive the one-time payment. The first wave of recipients includes mainly people who filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return and gave the IRS their direct-deposit information.
Under the stimulus plan, single filers earning up to USD 75,000 a year will receive a payment of USD 1,200. Married couples earning up to USD 150,000 a year will receive a payment of USD 2,400. Parents will receive an additional USD 500 for each child under 17, the media reported.