President Donald Trump’s name will be printed on paper cheques being sent to millions of Americans struggling financially because of coronavirus.
It is the first time a US president’s name will appear on a federal government handout.
Treasury officials have denied claims that the decision could delay delivery of the aid.
The assistance is part of a $2 trillion financial relief package approved by the US Congress in March.
Some 16m lost their jobs in the past month alone.
More than 80 million Americans are expected to receive payments of up to $1,200 in their bank accounts on Wednesday, according to the Treasury Department
But for those who did not provide banking details, they will receive a cheque with “President Donald J. Trump” printed on the left-hand side.
“It’s absolutely unprecedented,” Nina Olson, a former senior official in the Internal Revenue Service, told the Washington Post.
“Taxes are supposed to be nonpolitical, and it’s that simple.”
Two senior IRS officials told the Washington Post the move would probably lead to a delay in issuing the first batch of cheques. The Treasury Department denied this.
Critics are accusing the president of playing politics, using the financial aid to boost his reputation in an election year.
“You are getting your money late because the President thinks it is more important that his name be on the cheque than that you are able to pay your bills on time,” tweeted Democatic Senator Brian Schatz.
And Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut, which has around 3,500 COVID-19 cases, accused Mr Trump of putting himself “first” and “America second”.
Computer code must be changed to include the president’s name, US Treasury officials were quoted as saying.
The cheques need to be printed and sent for postal delivery in a process that should begin on Thursday.