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]
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Varney: Dems Bending Over Backwards To Help The Wealthy, Not Working Class
If you think the Democrats care about the working man, think again, says Fox Business host Stuart Varney.
He says the Democratic elite are bending over backwards to try and help their wealthy donors at the expense of the working class.
Just look at the breakdown in the negotiations for a new stimulus bill. The Democrats aren’t clamoring for another round of $1200 stimulus checks, they’ve let that fall to the side. Who benefits from another $1200 check? The working class, of course. The wealthy sure don’t need it.
The sticking point, says Varney, is a tax deduction. Specifically the SALT deduction that allows state tax payments to be deducted from federal taxes. President Trump put in a $10,000 cap on the deduction as part of his Tax Cut and Jobs Act. That’s not an issue for ordinary working class Americans, but does affect wealthy individuals in high-tax states, many of which are Democrat states likes New York, New Jersey, California and Illinois.
Varney says the Democrats clinging to this tax deduction for the wealthy at the expense of the working class tells you everything you need to know about their priorities.
“The Democrats are moving heaven and earth to help the rich. You heard right. The Democrats are running to the assistance of the top 1%. This tells you a lot about political change. If you thought the Democrats were all about working people, think again.”
He says the far left may want to tax the rich, but the Democrat establishment is looking to protect them.
“Maybe the socialist wing wants to seize your wealth, but the establishment is desperate to bail out their wealthy supporters. Specifically, they want to bring back the deduction for state taxes. Yes, that’s the SALT issue. It’s the big sticking point in the fight over the new virus package.”
He says for wealthy Americans living in Democrat states, it was a “major league” deduction. Without it, they are paying higher federal taxes.
“It was a major league deduction. It was a big tax saving. But that’s the old days. Now, no tax deduction. And the wealth, especially in high-tax Democrat states, are complaining bitterly. They’re paying more Federal tax, not less.”
Establishment Democrats are scrambling to get SALT repealed, says Varney, showing their true colors to their constituents.
“Oh, there is desperation. New York Senator Chuck Schumer, he is demanding a SALT repeal. So is Speaker Pelosi. She’s from California. So is candidate Joe Biden. The establishment is desperate to avoid even higher taxes in already high tax Democrat states which would make things even worse.”
“If SALT were to be repealed, the establishment helps its rich donors. It will be a Democrat gift to the wealthy. The main beneficiaries will be one-percenters. Forget ideology. Political self interest is what rules the Democrat elites.”
Ron Paul: This Is The Biggest Financial Bubble In History
Dr. Ron Paul believes that we are in the biggest financial bubble in history. He also said that when it pops, it will be very violent.
In a recent interview with Kitco News, Paul covered a wide range of topics. Some of these topics include the Federal Reserve, interest rates, and the economy.
He was asked about the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate of full employment and inflation control. To this, Paul said the Fed shouldn’t even be in the business of worrying about either.
“They shouldn’t even be in the business of pretending that if they want a good, healthy economy, and they want as best the employment possible, and the most balanced pricing system, you have to get rid of the system. You can’t have this artificial system from the Federal Reserve,” he said.
Free Market Should Set Interest Rates
Paul said the free market should be the one setting interest rates. Additionally, when the Fed thinks it has control over things is when problems start.
“You have to have a market rate of interest, and you have to have a money supply that’s determined by the market rather than by the politicians, because we are seeing the results of many, many years of this, especially since 1971 with what is happening now, it’s the runaway spending, we can’t have the runaway spending, if we continue to do this, and the fact that they pretend that they can control things, every time they think they have control then there’s a major correction, which we are in the midst of.”
He said the big event was when the Fed realized last fall that the bubble was starting to pop. He also mentioned that it began doing everything it could to keep it going. This meant cutting rates to zero.
“The big event that turned this whole thing on was in the fall when it was realized that the financial bubble was collapsing and they have destroyed for many, many years the most important function of the market, in the money supply are the interest rates. So we destroyed the pricing structure and that’s why we have so many mistakes, malinvestment, too much debt, too much government, and it wouldn’t happen if you didn’t have a Federal Reserve system that thinks they can manage the economy through monetary manipulation.”
Gold and the Market
Paul said the Fed can print as much money as it wants, but ultimately gold is what underpins the markets.
“I remember when gold was legalized in the 70’s, everybody thought the gold price would soar up, but it had already gone up, but at the time, our Treasury Department and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) dumped a lot of gold just to try and punish the people who knew that gold was a haven. So there’s a lot of monetary and gold manipulations, but ultimately the markets are determined by metals, not by paper money.”
He said we are getting close to a “cataclysmic” end to the bubble. The unfortunate result is that a lot of people will be wiped out financially.
“We are coming desperately close to a cataclysmic end to the current monetary system. I happen to believe it’s the biggest financial bubble in the history of monetary policy for the whole world. And the correction is going to be very violent, and it’s already pretty bad. People are going to get a lot poorer.”
“The bills have to be paid, the economy is going to turn down, and a lot of people have already gotten a lot poorer, but it’s going to get a lot worse unless we wake up and return to some sound economic and monetary policies.”
Wall Street Veteran: This Is The Biggest Stock Market Bubble In History
We are in the midst of the biggest stock market bubble in market history, according to Andrew Parlin, the founder and CIO of investment advisory firm Washington Peak.
In a recent op-ed for the Financial Times, Parlin says he’s experiencing “déjà vu” as he outlines the parallels between the Japanese real estate bubble of the 1980’s and today’s tech-driven bubble.
As a young investor during the real estate craze in Japan, he met with an analyst who claimed the stocks of a midsized and heavily indebted railroad company should be worth 5 times to 10 times more, because they could convert some of their land holdings into a giant condominium complex.
“Never mind that the land was desolate and inaccessible. Nor that acquiring the necessary permit would take years. He produced elaborate financial models showing how the stock was actually worth five to 10 times its current value. My head spun,” said Parlin.
“Back then, anything with a whiff of exposure to real estate was at the centre of speculation. Now, the hottest sectors in America are nearly all disruptive technologies. Stocks with real, or perceived, exposure to the cloud, digital payments, electric vehicles, plant-based food, or anything at all to do with the stay-at-home economy have shot up meteorically.”
But Parlin says the value of many of these “disruptors” is as unrealistic as what he saw during the Japanese real estate bubble.
“Bubbles are formed around individual stocks and sectors. As the concentric circles of excess widen, more and more stocks are infected. Wildly exaggerated stock stories force a delinking between fundamental analysis and share prices.”
He points to Tesla as an example of this phenomenon.
“That is how a stock such as Tesla commands a market capitalisation of about $400bn, up from $80bn in March, and $40bn one year ago. Tesla’s rise then engulfs the entire electric vehicle market in a frenzy of speculation.”
Companies Approaching the Market Bubble
Parlin’s reliable metric for a market bubble is the price-to-sales ratio. He says the number of companies with sky-high price-to-sales ratios is approaching dot-com bubble territory.
“Today, according to Bloomberg data, 530 out of America’s 8,513 listed common stocks trade at more than 10 times sales. This is 6.2 percent of all common stocks… Only at the very top of the dotcom bubble, in March of 2000, can we find a larger percentage of stocks (6.6 percent) trading in excess of 10 times sales.”
“The point is that price-to-sales ratios in the stratosphere do not stay there, any more than a tulip bulb in 17th-century Holland was able to maintain a price of $100,000. This gets at the troubling thing about bubbles. They do not simply undergo smooth and endogenous shrinkage until they disappear. Instead, they continue to expand until they burst. This is why their bursting is more often than not shocking, spectacular and disorderly.”
He says he doesn’t know when the bubble will burst, but we are all a part of the biggest bubble in history.
“When and how this ends is impossible to say. But with the Fed pursuing thunderous asset purchases and getting ever softer on its 2 percent inflation target, the bubble is firmly on track to be one of biggest in stock market history.”
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