Trump’s blatant taxpayer-paid ploy to grab credit for stimulus checks: A note on White House letterhead

President Trump hijacked what should have been a routine IRS confirmation letter.

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White House letterhead, President Trump signature on economic stimulus payment confirmation letter and Trump’s name on paper check

Graphic by Neesa Sweet

President Donald Trump hijacked what should have been a routine IRS confirmation letter into a taxpayer-paid election-year messaging tool sent to millions of potential voters in Illinois and across the nation.

Folks who received their COVID-19 economic stimulus cash via direct deposit in mid-April last week received a note on White House letterhead with Trump’s grandiose Sharpie signature.

There’s a Spanish language version on the other side that Trump also signed. The top of the letter says “The White House” with the word Washington underneath.

The return address on the letters is from the Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, and it includes the warning, “Official Business,” with the penalty for private use $300.

The letters, worth mentioning, were mailed through the U.S. Postal Service, the cash-short agency Trump is angry at because of his grievances against Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos. Trump wants to deny the USPS emergency COVID-19 aid.

As of April 17, there were 3,561,467 people in Illinois who’ve received the economic stimulus payments, totaling almost $6.3 billion, according to the IRS, with more on deck. Nationally, $160 billion went to 89.5 million people as of April 17.

The Trump-signed letter includes the amount of the payment and said, in part, “As we wage total war on this invisible enemy, we are also working around the clock to protect hardworking Americans like you from the consequences of the economy shutdown.”

The number of people receiving the stimulus payment is climbing because the paper checks from the IRS started arriving the past few days.

Whether by direct deposit or check, an adult with an adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 got a maximum of $1,200, with $500 for each eligible child under the age of 17.

Those distribution numbers include many deceased. In the well intended rush to shove money out the door, the IRS did not scrub their lists of people who died after filing tax returns in 2018 or 2019. It’s not clear yet how the money will be returned.

In an unprecedented move, Trump put his name on the left side of the check with the note, “Economic Impact Payment.” He’s not the actual signature on the check; Trump is not an authorized signer. There are some limits to presidential power. Imagine if Trump could actually sign government checks.

No surprise, Trump lied about it when he was asked if wanted to sign the checks at an April 3 briefing.

“No. Me sign? No. There’s millions of checks. I’m going to sign them? No. It’s a Trump administration initiative. But do I want to sign them? No,” Trump said.

Trump wants to give the impression he deserves the entire credit for federal money people are getting as a result of the COVID-19 economic meltdown, as if Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress were oblivious to the disaster. But it could not have happened without the cooperation of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democrats.

A notice the Department of Health and Human Services sent to doctors about potential relief funds they may get starts out, “President Trump is providing support to health care providers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a copy obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

What is the ploy Trump used as an excuse for the White House letter?

The IRS is sending confirmation letters “for security reasons” 15 days after the direct deposits.

The IRS website states, “The letter will provide information on how the payment was made and how to report any failure to receive the payment. If a taxpayer is unsure they’re receiving a legitimate letter, the IRS urges taxpayers to visit IRS.gov first to protect against scam artists.”

With Trump the top scammer when it comes to grabbing all the credit.

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