On The Money: IRS watchdog: Millions had major problems getting tax refunds, stimulus payments | SBA to reopen Paycheck Protection Program on Jan. 15 | Top Democrat pushes for tying unemployment insurance to economic conditions

On The Money: IRS watchdog: Millions had major problems getting tax refunds, stimulus payments | SBA to reopen Paycheck Protection Program on Jan. 15 | Top Democrat pushes for tying unemployment insurance to economic conditions

Happy Wednesday and welcome back to On The Money. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL— IRS watchdog: Millions had major problems getting tax refunds, stimulus payments: The IRS “generally performed well” carrying out last year’s tax-filing season and issuing the first round of coronavirus stimulus payments, but millions of taxpayers encountered significant problems, according to a report issued Wednesday by the agency’s in-house watchdog.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic led the IRS last spring — during the middle of the filing season — to temporarily close mail facilities, call centers and taxpayer assistance centers. 
  • Around the same time, the IRS was tasked with issuing relief payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child that were authorized by the CARES Act.

National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins said in her report that the IRS did a good job handling the tasks it could automate, but  there were several areas where taxpayers had major difficulties in 2020, including millions experiencing lengthy delays in getting their refunds. The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda breaks it down here.

LEADING THE DAY

Top Democrat pushes for tying unemployment insurance to economic conditions: Incoming Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenEfforts to secure elections likely to gain ground in Democrat-controlled Congress Biden announces veteran diplomat William Burns as nominee for CIA director Houston Chronicle calls on Cruz to resign MORE (D-Ore.) on Wednesday said he will push for tying additional unemployment benefits to the state of the economy, as opposed to setting deadlines for their expiration.

“I’m going to push with every bit of my energy to make sure there are triggers to tie benefits to economic conditions, so the Senate doesn’t need to come back,” he told reporters.

Wyden has long pushed for benefits to be tied to economic conditions so that they will phase out as unemployment drops to more manageable levels instead of expiring on an arbitrary date.

The Hill’s Niv Elis has more here.

SBA to reopen Paycheck Protection Program on Jan. 15: The Small Business Administration (SBA) on Friday will begin accepting applications for the second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, the agency announced Wednesday.

PPP-eligible lenders with less than $1 billion in assets can begin sending loans to the SBA for approval Friday, and the program will reopen to lenders of all sizes Tuesday, the agency said. The head start for smaller lenders is intended to ensure that smaller businesses can obtain PPP loans after many were unable to do so during the first round of disbursement in 2020. I’ve got more on the terms of the new round here.

GOOD TO KNOW

ODDS AND ENDS