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Still Waiting for Your Stimulus Check? Dead People are Getting Theirs.

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Still waiting for your stimulus check? Dead people are getting theirs.

Andrew Dapkins sounds like the kind of guy who would have made good use of his coronavirus stimulus check, maybe by sprinkling it among his family or helping the organizations he volunteered with.

Unfortunately, Dapkins passed away in early March, the victim of cancer, at age 79. The government still paid him a few weeks later, adding to the anguish for his widow, Mary Wyant.

It was very upsetting, she told me Friday after calling for advice on how to return the money. “I loved my husband very much.”

With his death being recent, Wyant can understand the government making a mistake and sending him a stimulus payment. But she finds it concerning that deceased people are being paid while the living who really could use a boost haven’t received theirs.

“I do know people that really need them,” said Wyant, who lives in Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County.

Approximately 130 million people have received payments over the past month, the IRS said Friday, and others will receive them soon.

Individuals will get up to $1,200, married couples will get up to $2,400, and families will be paid $500 for each child who is under 17. If you earn more than $99,000, or $198,000 as a couple, you don’t qualify

There were bound to be problems when the government rushed to send the money to help people get through the coronavirus pandemic. So it’s not a surprise that deceased people got paid. The government doesn’t have a good track record of differentiating between the dead and the living.

I’ve written previously about rental subsidies, veterans benefits and Social Security benefits being paid to deceased people.

And the dead were paid during the previous federal stimulus, too, after the Great Recession. Many Social Security recipients were eligible for a one-time payment of $250 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

An audit the following year found that $18 million had been paid to more than 71,000 dead people. The vast majority of those payments could not have been avoided, according to the audit, because their deaths hadn’t been reported to the Social Security Administration.

But the deaths of an estimated 14% of the recipients had been recorded, and the government failed to check records noting that.

It’s likely that some of the coronavirus stimulus payments to deceased people occurred because their deaths hadn’t been reported yet to Social Security, too. But there’s no excuse for all of them.

An Upper Macungie woman got checks for two family members who died in 2018. They already should have been off the government’s books by now. The government even noted they were dead on the checks, which had the notation “DECD” after the recipients’ names.

Now that’s embarrassing. Those in charge don’t seem to be all that concerned, though.

“Sometimes you send a check to somebody wrong. Sometimes people are listed, they die, and they get a check. That can happen,” President Donald  told reporters on April 17, according to USA Today. “We’ll get that back. Everything we’re going to get back.”

It’s unclear how many payments were made to deceased people. I’ve heard from three people who got them. Media elsewhere in Pennsylvania and in other states have written about them, too.

Pennsylvania’s senators have heard from some. Bob Casey’s office told me it’s heard from “over two dozen.” Pat Toomey’s office told me it’s heard from “a number of people.”

Wyant received a $1,200 direct deposit payment for her late husband, a Pike County native who volunteered for Meals on Wheels and New Hope Ministries in Mechanicsburg. He would pick up food from local stores for a food bank.

“He was a wonderful man. He was so loved by so many people,” she told me. “He was always doing stuff.”

Wyant immediately moved the payment in his name to another account so it couldn’t be spent, while she sought information about how to return it.

That information didn’t come from the Treasury until this week.

It says that those who received checks should write “void” in the endorsement section on the back, and mail it back with a note explaining the reason for the return. Don’t staple, bend or paper clip the check.

Those who cashed a check or received payment by direct deposit should mail a personal check or money order, payable to “U.S. Treasury.” On the check or money order, write “2020EIP” and the taxpayer identification number or Social Security number of the recipient of the improper payment, and explain why it’s being returned.

Pennsylvania residents should send the payments to: Philadelphia Refund Inquiry Unit, 2970 Market St., DP 3-L08-151, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Further details about who is eligible for stimulus payments and how to return improper ones are on the IRS website, irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center.

Wyant told me she will be returning Dapkins’ payment with delivery confirmation, to verify it was received. That’s good advice. You may need proof if the IRS questions you later.

Morning Call columnist Paul Muschick can be reached at 610-820-6582 or [email protected]

We rely on the support of our subscribers to fund our journalism as we continue to cover the coronavirus crisis. If you’re not already signed up, we hope you will consider subscribing. Already a print subscriber? If you haven’t already, please activate your digital access.

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  1. Avatar

    L. Ann

    May 12, 2020 at 10:41 AM

    NOPE !! Guess all mighty GOV’T chooses who gets them.

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Business

5 Little-Known Ways To Lower Your Taxes

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5 Little-Known Ways To Lower Your Taxes

Everyone loves to pay lower taxes, but very few people understand or take advantage of all the tax breaks that are available to them. Here’s a list of 5 little-known tax breaks that you can use to help lower your tax bill.

1. Pay No Capital Gains Tax

If you sell an asset you’ve owned for more than a year, you pay long-term capital gains tax of either 0%, 15% or 20%. This is a favorable tax treatment when compared to selling assets you’ve owned for less than a year, which are taxed at the same rate as your ordinary income.

But, it’s possible to pay no capital gains tax when selling your long-held assets like stocks and bonds or mutual funds. In order to pay no capital gains tax, your taxable income needs to be less than $39,375 if you are single or $78,750 if you are married when filing your 2019 taxes. For the 2020 tax year, those numbers jump slightly to $40,000 and $80,000.

2. Earned Income Tax Credit

This program directly benefits those with low-to-moderate incomes, and particularly those with children. A single filer would need an adjusted gross income of $15,570 or less to benefit, but for a married individual with three children, the adjusted gross income limit is as high as $55,952. In certain situations where your EITC benefit exceeds the amount of taxes you owe, you would receive a tax refund.

3. Deduct Your Retirement Account Contributions

If you are putting money aside in a traditional IRA as part of your retirement plan, you can contribute up to $6000 per year. If you aren’t part of a retirement plan through work – like a 401(k) – you can deduct all of your contributions no matter what tax bracket you are in. Non-working spouses (or spouses making very little income) can contribute up to $6,000 ($7,000 if 50 or older) into their own IRA account as long as the working spouse has enough earned income to cover both contributions. There are limits to the deductions as income increases, so check with a tax adviser.

4. Saver’s Tax Credit

If you are a single filer with adjusted gross income less than $32,000 (or $64,000 if married) you claim a tax credit (a credit, not deduction – more on this in a moment) of 10%, 20% or 50% of the first $2,000 you put into a retirement account ($4,000 for married filers). The lower your income, the higher the credit amount. Unlike a deduction that lowers your taxable income, a credit reduces the amount of taxes you owe on a dollar-for-dollar ratio. So a $2,000 tax credit reduces your taxes by $2,000.

5. Lifetime Learning Credit

If you are interested in continuing your education, you can utilize the Lifetime Learning Credit. This allows you to go back and study nearly any topic, at any school, you can get back 20% of up to $10,000 in expenses per year. The income limits are $68,000 for single filers and $136,000 for married filers. Now go back and enroll in that art class you always wished you had taken!

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Trump Says Economy ‘Roaring Back’ in June As 4.8 Million Jobs Added

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Trump Says Economy ‘Roaring Back’ in June As 4.8 Million Jobs Added

The economy added back 4.8 million jobs last month, according to the government’s June jobs report released yesterday. That handily beat the 3.7 million jobs forecasted by economists and dropped the unemployment rate down to 11.1%.

After the report was released, President Trump said the economy was “extremely strong” and “roaring back” after the country has regained more than 7.5 million jobs in the last two months. Trump added that the economy will keep growing unless voters elected Democrat Joe Biden in November. He said Biden would raise taxes and hurt the economy and the stock market would “drop down to nothing.”

Jobs Added

Of the jobs added back in June, bars and restaurants hired – or rehired – 1.48 million workers. This comes as many reopened for outdoor dining in the early phases of the reopening. They brought back a similar number of workers in May. It happened after shedding more than 6 million jobs due to the pandemic.

The retail sector regained 740,000 jobs, healthcare added back 358,000 workers, and manufacturing saw 356,000 jobs added.

The energy sector continues to be battered by low oil prices amidst the economic slowdown. Additionally, that industry shed an additional 10,000 jobs last month.

The return of lower-paying jobs like those found in the restaurant and hospitality industry dragged down the average hourly wages for the second straight month.

Many are cautioning against reading too much into reports like average hourly wages while the economy is in such turmoil.

Stephen Stanley, chief economist of Amherst Pierpont Securities, says, “The wage figures will be pretty much useless for a long while until the labor market gets back to some semblance of normality.”

Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist of the job site Glassdoor, also gave an explanation. He added, “Today’s positive jobs report does provide a powerful signal of how swiftly U.S. job growth can bounce back and how rapidly businesses can reopen once the nation finally brings the coronavirus under control — a reason for optimism in coming months.”

Looking Forward

Unfortunately for many of the workers recently rehired to work in bars and restaurants, the recent spike in new coronavirus cases could lead to those jobs quickly being lost for a second time. Bars in many states are being shut down again in an effort to curb the growing number of cases.

The unemployment rate fell for the second straight month. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is trying to fix a reporting error that, if corrected, would increase the unemployment rate by 1%.

The problem is how households respond to the monthly survey that is used to calculate the unemployment rate. The jobless rate would have been 1 point higher if not for continued problems in how respondents answer the question about their employment status.

What many consider the “real” unemployment rate, which is the U6 rate, includes workers who can only find part-time jobs. It also includes those who’ve become too discouraged to look for jobs because so few are available. Using that measurement, the unemployment rate stands at 18% in June, down from 21.2% in May.

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Business

Trump Favors Larger Stimulus Checks, Says ‘Tremendous’ Market Crash if Biden Wins

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Trump Favors Larger Stimulus Checks, Says ‘Tremendous’ Market Crash if Biden Wins

In a wide-ranging interview with Fox Business News, President Trump mentioned his support for another round of stimulus checks and says should Joe Biden win the election in November, we should expect the stock market to crash “a tremendous amount.”

On Stimulus Checks

Speaking with Blake Burman, the president says he is in favor of another round of stimulus checks, but wants to make sure that there is a financial incentive for Americans to return to work.

“I support it, but it has to be done properly. I support actually larger numbers than the Democrats, but it’s got to be done properly. We had something where it gave you a disincentive to work last time. And it was still money going to people, and helping people, so I was all for that. But we want to create a very great incentive to work.”

Trump also mentioned he wants the checks to arrive quickly and spent quickly, without the Democrats adding complications.

“I want the money getting to people to be larger so they can spend it, I want the money to get there quickly and in a non-complicated fashion. And they wanted to make it too complicated, also it was an incentive not to go to work,” said Trump.

Returning to work is what hard-working Americans are looking forward to, says Trump, and he wants there to be a financial incentive to do so.

“You’d make more money if you don’t go to work. That’s not what the country is all about. And people didn’t want that. They wanted to go to work but it didn’t make sense because they make more money if they didn’t… we want people to get out and we want to create a tremendous incentive for people to want to go back to work.”

On Biden and Taxes

When asked about Joe Biden’s recently announced plans to raise corporate taxes if he becomes President, Trump said “You’re going to crash the market. 401(k)s will be down the tubes, the wealth of the country will be down.”

He added “That will kill the market. It will kill everything we are doing, it will kill jobs, and it will be very bad. Frankly, the stock market is doing well, but it’s an overhang. If he got elected, and they say this, that’s an overhang over the market, because the market would crash. Would absolutely crash.”

When asked what he means by crash, Trump responded, “Markets would go down by tremendous amounts. He’d raise taxes, he’d raise regulations. Look, one of the biggest things I’ve done is I’ve cut regulations more than any President in history. We still have regulations, but they’re much less. His people, the people around him (Biden) are radical left. They’re going to raise taxes, they’re going to raise regulations, and they’re going to put everyone out of business. It would be a disaster.”

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