January 23, 2022

Harvey G. Stack, Leading Dealer in Rare Coins, Dies at 93

“I had worked virtually every moment that I wasn’t in school,” he wrote in a history for the company.

The firm begun in the 19th century by his great-grandfather Maurice got into numismatics as a sideline, buying and selling collector coins and currency in addition to its primary function in foreign exchange. It later diversified into dealing in antiques and rare stamps.

In 1935, after converting the company to a rare coin dealership, Morton and Joseph Stack held their first public auction. In 1953, Stack’s moved to a gallery on 57th Street in Midtown Manhattan. (It is now on 38th Street and has galleries in other cities.)

In 2011, Stack’s merged with Bowers Merena to create Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

Mr. Stack was the president of the Professional Numismatists Guild for two years beginning in 1989. In 1993 he was given the Founder’s Award, the guild’s highest honor.

In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife, Harriet (Spellman) Stack; his daughter, Susan; two grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. He lived on Long Island.

The Stack’s gallery was considered an inviting global clubhouse by many coin dealers and collectors. But Mr. Stack was not shy about promoting the company’s financial success.

“There are people who sell gold and silver bullion, and rolls and bags of coins, who call themselves coin dealers, and some of them probably do upward of $100 million business a year,” he told The New York Times in 1984. “When you say ‘rare coin dealers,’ though, and speak of firms that sell both directly and at auction, we’re the largest coin dealer in the United States.”

He drew a distinction between coin collectors, whom he courted assiduously, and investors.

“If a collector and an investor had to abandon a sinking ship, the collector would take with him the rarest and most aesthetically appealing pieces without regard to market value,” he told The Times in 1977. “The investor would try to take as much of his coins as possible, starting with the most valuable.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/22/business/harvey-g-stack-dead.html

How I Cut My Family’s Cable and Streaming Bill by $170

Next came deciding what streaming services to keep.

Mr. Willcox suggests making a list of the shows you and your family want to watch and then matching them with the appropriate streaming service. Set a limit on what you want to spend. “It’s a lot more work than it used to be,” he said.

To keep the total cost under a target of $250 a month (a savings of at least $150 from my current bill), I had $65 left.

I prefer advertising-free viewing, so I’m planning on paying a bit more than I would for ad-supported streaming options. Even so, my savings should cover the cost of monthly subscriptions to Netflix (currently $13.99 for a standard plan), Paramount+ ($9.99 for premium) and Amazon Prime video ($8.99; if you pay for a full Prime membership, video is included). I learned that we can keep Disney+ bundled with two more services free — Hulu (shows include “Only Murders in the Building,” with Steve Martin) and ESPN+ — as part of a promotion from Verizon, our mobile phone company. The Hulu option in the deal has ads, but I’ll take them — for now. Finally, we can add HBO Max ($11.99) and watch acclaimed shows like “Station Eleven.”

(Our Apple TV+ subscription is free for six more months; we’ll re-evaluate it when the promotion expires.)

Grand total for streaming and cable: $230.

With the overall savings (about $170 a month), maybe we can even buy other things (hopefully, more books).

Still, that’s a lot of television — and it’s probably unnecessary to pay for all of those subscriptions year round, Mr. Willcox said. You could instead pay for a month here and there because most streaming services currently allow customers to join and cancel at will. (Just remember to cancel.)

For instance, if you don’t care about watching a new show right away, he said, you can simply wait. When an entire season of a show that you want to watch becomes available, you can join the appropriate streaming service, watch it for a month, then cancel — and sign up again later if something else catches your fancy. (Some people even binge watch their selections during free trials.) It takes some planning but can save you money.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/21/your-money/cable-streaming-bill.html

A Guide to Quitting Your Job

Make a list of your nonnegotiable monthly expenses — mortgage, rent, food, utilities, insurance, car payments, other debt, child care — and a list of what you can do without. If you don’t already have an emergency fund, you should save at least three to six months’ worth of expenses. Even if your job search doesn’t take that long, that sum doesn’t account for costs you can’t anticipate.

If you own a home, applying for a home equity line of credit before you quit (and lose your pay stubs) can provide added security. “You may not need it, but it is a nice thing to fall back on for extra cash because it is much cheaper than drawing on credit cards,” said Laura Rotter, a financial planner in White Plains, N.Y.

A Roth individual retirement account can also act as backstop: Contributions, but not earnings, can be withdrawn without penalty.

Before you leave, be sure to use (or lose) the money you’ve set aside in your flexible spending accounts, whether for medical or dependent care expenses. Expenses must be incurred before you leave.

There’s good news for employees here, and it may surprise you: You’re entitled to the full health care F.S.A. amount you elected to set aside — even though the money is taken out of your paycheck over the course of the year. If you elected to set aside $2,000 for medical expenses but have had only $1,000 taken out of your checks by the time you leave, you can still spend the entire sum. And your employer can’t make you pay back the difference.

“An employer is stuck with the bill,” said Karen Burke, an adviser with the Society for Human Resource Management, or SHRM, a trade organization.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/19/your-money/quitting-your-job-guide.html

Financial Planning for People With Chronic Diseases

Before she became eligible for Medicare, Deborah Rosenwinkel, who lives in Wheaton, Ill., and has rheumatoid arthritis, used a manufacturer’s discount card for Enbrel, a biologic she injected at home once a week. The $12,000 card covered her deductible and co-payments, while her individual insurance policy picked up the balance, of up to $80,000 a year.

But when Ms. Rosenwinkel turned 65 last February and enrolled in Medicare, she was no longer eligible for the card. Even when a Medicare Part D plan covers Enbrel, annual co-payments could run as much as $7,000.

Ms. Rosenwinkel’s rheumatologist advised her to switch drugs. Because the new medication is injected monthly in the physician’s office, it falls under Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient services. Medicare and her private Medigap plan cover the total cost. “I have not received any bills,” she said. “I am so grateful.”

The price tags for wheelchairs, patient lifts and other durable medical equipment also can be steep. Medicare pays 80 percent if the doctor and supplier are enrolled in the program. Disease-specific organizations or local aging organizations may be able to recommend nonprofit groups that provide free or discounted equipment.

Mr. Schwartz’s wheelchair cost $30,000, with a $6,000 co-payment. But Medicare did not cover a standing frame, which improves muscle and bone strength by enabling users to stand with support. To help pay for the $15,000 device, he raised more than $10,000 in a GoFundMe campaign.

Another source of financial help: tax write-offs. Taxpayers can deduct medical expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income. Among eligible costs: drug expenses, home improvements such as support bars, assisted-living charges, and medical equipment. To take advantage of the deduction, people who have large medical bills should consider tapping sources of taxable income, such as an individual retirement account, Dr. McClanahan said.

While he deals with his own physical and financial challenges, Mr. Schwartz helps raise money for others with multiple sclerosis. Over 10 years, first for the Myelin Repair Foundation and then for the MS Society, he has made six tandem sky-diving jumps. He hopes to jump again in June.

“People say I am amazing, and it feels good for people to tell you how great you are,” he said.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/14/business/chronic-illness-financial-planning.html

I.R.S. to Start Tax Season With Major Backlog

The Biden administration is seeking an additional $80 billion over a decade for the I.R.S. to increase its staff, upgrade its technology and improve its enforcement and customer service capacity. That request is part of the administration’s Build Back Better Act, which is stalled in Congress.

“Additional resources are essential to helping our employees do more in 2022 — and beyond,” Charles P. Rettig, the I.R.S. commissioner, said in a statement on Monday.

Ms. Collins reiterated the agency’s recommendation that Congress provide it with enough money to do its job. Since 2010, the I.R.S.’s staffing is down 17 percent, according to the report. Its workload, measured by the number of individual returns, is up from 142 million in 2010 to 169 million last year — an increase of 19 percent.

Over the past two years, the agency has been charged with administering several pandemic-related programs, including three rounds of stimulus (totaling 478 million payments worth $812 billion) and $93 billion in advance payments for the expanded child tax credit to more than 36 million families.

“One irony of the past year is that, despite its challenges, the I.R.S. performed well under the circumstances,” Ms. Collins wrote.

As of late December, the I.R.S. had yet to finish processing six million original tax returns, 2.3 million amended returns, more than two million employer quarterly returns and five million pieces of taxpayer correspondence — with some submissions dating to April and with many taxpayers still waiting for refunds, according to the advocate’s report. In contrast, there are fewer than a million unaddressed returns in a more typical year, according to Treasury officials.

Even millions of returns filed electronically — which usually flow through the system more quickly — were suspended during processing because of discrepancies between the amounts claimed on returns and what the I.R.S. had on record.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/12/business/irs-backlog-tax-returns-2021.html

Bank of America Will Cut Overdraft Fees

Banking regulators have taken aim at overdraft practices in recent months. Rohit Chopra, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has said many lenders have become “hooked on overdraft fees” to feed their profits. The acting comptroller of the currency, Michael J. Hsu, has said the charges disproportionately affect vulnerable customers.

Bank of America’s plan is the most aggressive among the biggest banks, but smaller banks have gone further: Capital One and Ally Financial eliminated fees for overdrafting last year. Some lenders have introduced less-punitive alternatives to the fees, like grace periods or small short-term loans.

JPMorgan Chase, the country’s largest bank, said last month that it planned to give overdrawn customers an extra business day to raise their balances to within the $50 “overdraft cushion” that prevents fees from being charged. Even before Tuesday’s announcement, Bank of America was offering strapped customers loans of up to $500 that must be repaid over three months.

“This is a very strong program that creates both limits, guardrails and the supports that people need to get through cash crunches that are going to continue to come to many working families,” Mike Calhoun, the president of the Center for Responsible Lending, an advocacy group that promotes financial fairness, said in an interview.

The nonprofit, which was among the community groups consulted by Bank of America on the new policies, has urged all financial institutions to eliminate overdraft fees.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/11/your-money/bank-of-america-overdraft-fees.html

College Merit Aid (or Lack Thereof) Makes Early Decision Ever Murkier

When I first posed this question to Mr. Kumarasamy, he suggested that it was a kind of gamesmanship. I objected to that, given that plenty of people don’t feel they can afford his $75,000 or so list price but can make it work at $50,000 with that merit aid discount. How can this be gaming the system, I asked, when he doesn’t give them any sense ahead of time of whether they might get that $25,000 off?

Eventually, he came around. “What is not good for the student is not good for any of us,” he said. But he was also quick to point out the zero-sum nature of early decision; if you bail out on an acceptance, you took the spot of someone else — perhaps someone even needier than you — who would have liked their shot at getting in early in their senior year of high school and actually accepting the school’s financial aid offer.

“There’s a difference between behavior that occurs in rare instances and behavior we want to encourage,” a Northeastern spokesman, Michael Armini, said via email.

I would like to encourage that behavior a bit more than Northeastern does, and I wish college counselors in high schools would too.

It would be so much easier if none of this parsing was necessary, but early decision is going to be with us for a while because colleges like it so much. When enrollment managers (as they now often refer to themselves) admit a large fraction of a class at a point in the process where students feel obliged to come if they get in, it gives the schools great control over precisely what sorts of students are in any given class — and how much revenue they will deliver.

So as long as we’re stuck with a highly imperfect system, schools should say what percentage of students get merit aid in the early decision round, if they have one and also offer merit aid. All schools should also say what percentage of the overall class gets merit aid and explain how they’re defining the term.

They should say that early decision is not binding, and they should pledge not to punish future applicants from high schools where former applicants walked away from an early decision acceptance. They should also clarify whether they have a problem with people who decline an early decision offer because they didn’t get enough merit aid.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/07/your-money/college-early-decision-northeastern-merit-aid.html

Tax Season 2022: What to Know About Child Credit and Stimulus Payments

But others may urge filers to use the amounts shown in their records, if they have documentation — like a bank statement — to show that they are accurate. That, however, could cause the I.R.S. to flag the return for review, delaying the entire refund — not just the amount tied to the child tax credit, said Erin M. Collins, the national taxpayer advocate. Ms. Collins heads the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent agency representing taxpayers inside the I.R.S.

One option could be to file a return using the I.R.S. numbers, then file an amended return later with the amounts documented in the filer’s records. Filers would eventually get the correct amount from the credit, without delaying their entire refund.

But Eric Smith, an I.R.S. spokesman, advised against that approach because the agency already has a large backlog of amended returns to process, and wait times will probably lengthen once filers begin submitting returns for 2021. “Amended returns take a long time, even under the best of circumstances,” he said.

Ms. Evenstad said filers who wanted to get at least part of their refund could choose to file with the I.R.S. numbers and then ask the agency to trace the payments in question so they could get the money once the difference was verified.

“They definitely should talk to their accountant,” Ms. Collins said, noting that her office does not give tax advice. Since there is still time before returns can be filed, she said, taxpayers can try to contact the I.R.S. to correct any discrepancy. Be aware, however, that wait times for assistance may be lengthy. “It’s not going to be a quick fix,” she said.

If you got advance payments but don’t receive an I.R.S. letter, you can go to the I.R.S.’s child tax credit update website and create an account to check your information online. (You’ll need to verify your identity, using an ID like a driver’s license or a passport, and you’ll need a way to take a photograph of yourself and upload it.)

The total amount of the credit varies from family to family, and is based on your child’s age as well as your income and filing status. Families with children 5 and younger are eligible for credits of as much as $3,600 per child, with up to $300 received monthly in advance; those with children ages 6 to 17 are eligible for up to $3,000, with up to $250 a month in advance. Families are eligible for the full amount if they earn less than $150,000 and are married filing a joint return. Single filers who earn less than $75,000 are also eligible for the full amount, as are head-of-household filers earning less than $112,500.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/07/your-money/taxes-irs.html

‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Loans May Soon Play Bigger Role in Credit Scores

Francis Creighton, the president and chief executive of the Consumer Data Industry Association, a trade group for the credit reporting industry, said it was important to have pay-later loans reflected on credit reports so lenders could have a true picture of a loan applicant’s overall credit profile. But because the loans are structured differently from traditional loans, he said, the credit bureaus first had to resolve “technical” issues to add them. “We have to make sure we do it right,” he said.

At the same time, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has stepped up scrutiny of pay-later companies. In mid-December, the bureau opened an inquiry, asking five companies to supply details about their business practices by March 1. The bureau, citing the “explosive growth” of pay-later during the pandemic and through the holiday shopping season, said it wanted to understand the potential benefits and risks to consumers better. The agency said it was also concerned about how the companies use the data they collect from customers.

The agency noted that if consumers use the loans for multiple purchases, they may have trouble keeping track of payments. “Because of the ease of getting these loans,” the agency said, “consumers can end up spending more than anticipated.”

Installment payments are usually deducted automatically from debit cards, so shoppers may be charged overdraft fees if they don’t have enough money in their accounts to cover the payments. If shoppers pay the installments with a credit card, they may run up additional debt and interest charges on their card if they don’t pay their installment balance in full.

Also, the consumer agency said, pay-later loans carry fewer protections than traditional credit cards, like the right to dispute a charge if a product is faulty.

Members of Congress, as well as consumer groups, have called for more oversight of the companies, noting that because the installment loans don’t use traditional credit checks, it’s not clear whether borrowers have the ability to repay multiple loans.

Here are some questions and answers about buy now, pay later credit:

Ms. Saunders said consumers should be confident that they will be able to make the required installments in the time allotted. With traditional credit cards, customers have a consistent payment schedule and a statement summarizing all charges, but someone with multiple pay-later loans may have to juggle multiple due dates. “They definitely want to make sure they’re keeping track of their payments,” she said.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/31/your-money/buy-now-pay-later-loans-credit.html

Why Older Women Face Greater Financial Hardship Than Older Men

After gray divorce, women’s standard of living fell by 45 percent, Dr. Lin and her co-author found, while men’s decreased by just 21 percent. Repartnering, either through remarriage or cohabitation, helped divorced older women regain their financial footing, but only 22 percent of women repartnered, compared with 37 percent of men. (In Ms. Palazzo’s case: “Not going to happen.”)

Changes in Social Security eligibility and benefits could reduce some of this inequity. The benefit for a divorced spouse, for instance, is half what a widowed spouse can claim. Caregiver credits could partially compensate for years spent in child rearing or elder care.

“The basic rules were written in the 1930s,” Dr. Rutledge said. “They don’t recognize women’s increased employment. They don’t recognize that people don’t stay married for good.” Mandated retirement savings programs (Australia has one) would also help workers whose employers don’t offer them.

It’s possible to see progress in these patterns. “It’s good news that women are working and living independently, emerging as independent economic actors,” said Teresa Ghilarducci, an economist at The New School, noting that younger women were narrowing the gender gap in earnings and savings.

But many women currently approaching retirement may struggle, especially if they’re single like Ms. Hartt. She now lives frugally on a $2,500 monthly Social Security benefit. She drives a leaky 2001 Nissan she will be unable to replace when it dies. “Because I have no family and no savings, what worries me is if I were to become disabled, physically or mentally,” she said.

One piece of luck: In September 2020, she moved into a cheerful apartment in a Section 8 subsidized housing complex in New Haven, for seniors and people with disabilities. The rent comes to $670 a month, including utilities.

“I feel safe,” she said. “I’m at a kind of peace.” And because she hasn’t fully squelched her optimism, she buys a few lottery tickets each week.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/26/health/older-women-financial-hardship-retirement.html