My ex-husband filed a joint tax return without my knowledge. He received my family’s stimulus payment — what can I do?


Dear Moneyist,

I have an estranged husband, and we have been living separately for years. He has been filing taxes jointly without my knowledge AND now he has received my stimulus money AND my kids’ stimulus money. I can’t hire an attorney because I’m poor, and I live in a rural area where there are no attorneys who will take my case without a fee.

I’ve asked a legal center how to bring this issue of financial abuse to the divorce judge and, so far, I have received no answers. I have no idea how the Internal Revenue Service will react, given that we are still legally married. I do know the money was deposited into his account. We never had joint bank accounts. My ex doesn’t communicate with me, and his phone has been off for weeks now.

He has used the pandemic to commit emotional and economic abuse. What can I do?

Claudia

Dear Claudia,

You may have to wait longer for your money, but you will get it. What your husband did is fraud, it’s against the law and, in addition to facing possible criminal charges, he may also face a hefty fine for filing these taxes in your name. He forged your name on this tax return. That’s another crime. As for keeping the money your family is owed, that is the poisoned cherry on top. That’s theft. This will all come back to haunt him, and he could end up going to jail. With so many people losing out on their income during the pandemic, I’m only sorry that money you need now will take longer to reach you.


With so many people losing out on their income during the pandemic, I’m only sorry that money you need now will take longer to reach you.


— The Moneyist

You can verify your identity with the IRS here. The phone lines are open, but customer-service support is extremely limited at this time. “Each state has at least one Local Taxpayer Advocate who is independent of the local IRS office and reports directly to the National Taxpayer Advocate,” according to the agency. You can select your state here to find the phone number and address of the Taxpayer Advocate Service office nearest you. You can also write to the office in your state. Read more on how to report fraud here.

Hundreds of people have written to me wondering why they have not received their stimulus payment. One husband actually refused to give the payment to his wife. That was a textbook case of financial abuse. “Financial abuse happens when an abuser takes control of finances to prevent the other person from leaving and to maintain power in a relationship,” according to the Office on Women’s Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “An abuser may take control of all the money, withhold it, and conceal financial information from the victim.”

I’m sorry this has continued long after your divorce. Legal aid is a good first step. Sooner or later, tax shenanigans will catch up with the person trying to work the system. It’s now your husband’s turn. You have one advantage: You know why your economic impact payment did not arrive. That may seem like a small consolation at this time, but now at least you can do something about it. Given how overwhelmed the agency is at the present time, it will take some time, but you should eventually be compensated, and your former husband will learn of the severity of his crimes.

Also see: I received my ex-husband’s $1,200 stimulus check because we filed joint taxes in 2018. Should I give him the money or return it to the IRS

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.

Want to read more?Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitterand read more of his columns here

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A 50-year technological revolution is about to begin. These are the stocks to own, says strategist


The European Central Bank has just added to the boatloads of pandemic stimulus out there, credited for shielding stocks and investors from bad news. But stock futures are under pressure, which could threaten yet another winning session for the S&P 500
SPX,
+1.36%
.

The index is up 40% from its March 23 lows, and some are nervous. It might be time to hold onto that long-term investing plan with both hands.

Our call of the day, from Brad Neuman, investment strategist at equities manager Alger, is banking on 50-year technological revolutions, noting we’ve just finished one that has ended with smartphones and information in the palm of your hand.

“We think that we’re in a new long-term technological revolution, which we call the age of connected intelligence…and that means we think that there’s gong to be a lot of connected devices,” Neuman tells MarketWatch. Think the “Internet of Things” and lots more data being produced and processed in the cloud, and more access to that data for everyone at an affordable price.

“Ultimately, all of that data being analyzed by these very advanced hardware and software systems manifests itself in artificial intelligence and better decision making,” he says.

How to play it? Via semiconductors and equipment makers, such as LAM Research
LRCX,
+5.68%
,
which help process data, or cloud-platform companies such as Amazon
AMZN,
+0.24%

and Microsoft
MSFT,
+0.24%

that provide hardware and software to analyze the data and eventually will provide artificial intelligence as a service. Those stocks are in their

Payments is also a key theme within connected intelligence, which means owning Visa
V,
+0.26%

and PayPal
PYPL,
-0.45%
.
And health care is also a “good microcosm” on the theme of analyzing big data and putting it to good use, says Neuman. So the Alger team owns companies that provide material and equipment to do that, such as Thermo Fisher
TMO,
-0.82%

or Bio-Techne
TECH,
-1.67%
.
Finally, you can buy the cloud-based software companies to help develop and market drugs — such as Veeva Systems
VEEV,
-1.99%
,
he says.

Veeva is in the Alger Small Cap Growth Z fund
ASCZX,
-0.17%

.

So why a strategy like this right now? “One of our core beliefs at Alger is that innovation can transcend economic volatility. In any period over the past 150 years…there’s always an area of innovation that’s thriving and companies that are growing because of it,” said Neuman.

Opinion: If the time is right for value stocks, this diversified dividend ETF may fit the bill

The economy

The ECB has expanded its pandemic emergency asset purchase program by €600 billion rather than the €500 billion expected. It will also reinvest the proceeds of maturing securities and stretch out the expiration date of the program.

Ahead of Friday’s payroll’s data, weekly jobless claims came in as expected, with 1.8 million more filing for unemployment, while continuing claims rose to 21.6 million. U.S. productivity was revised to a negative 0.9% for the first quarter from negative 2.5%, while the trade deficit widened to $49.4 billion in April.

The market

Dow
YM00,
-0.38%
,
S&P
ES00,
-0.52%

and Nasdaq
NQ00,
-0.24%

futures are down after jobs data. European stocks
SXXP,
-0.61%

have been on a tear, and were up post-ECB, but are now off again. A press conference with ECB President Christine Lagarde is underway. Asian markets had a mostly positive day.

The chart

Speaking of central bank spending, here’s a 300-year look at what’s been happening at the Bank of England:

The buzz

Workplace chat app Slack
WORK,
+3.96%

will report after the close, along with technology group Broadcom
AVGO,
+3.84%
.

And online meeting group ZoomInfo
ZI,

has priced its initial public offering at $21, topping an already hiked range.

All four police officers involved in the death of civilian George Floyd are facing new charges. That is as a rainy night in New York and early curfew kept protests calm on Wednesday evening. Former Defense Secretary James Mattis unloaded on President Donald Trump over his threat to bring in the military to stop protesters, saying “he tries to divide us.”

On the coronavirus battlefront — 10 million people were tested in Wuhan and just 300 infections were found, and scientists studying the disease say it isn’t mutating into a bigger threat.

Random reads

There is a new suspect in the 2007 disappearance of U.K. child Madeline McCann.

New York Times staffers are furious over a hawkish opinion piece about protests.

Spanish pornography star arrested over man’s toad-venom death.

Need to Know starts early and is updated until the opening bell, but sign up here to get it delivered once to your email box. Be sure to check the Need to Know item. The emailed version will be sent out at about 7:30 a.m. Eastern.

Follow MarketWatch on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.





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N.Y. Times staffers revolt over decision to publish hawkish Tom Cotton op-ed


The New York Times was facing a sharp backlash from staffers Wednesday after publishing a hawkish op-ed column by Sen. Tom Cotton calling for the military to quell protests across the nation.

In a column titled “Send in the troops,” the Arkansas Republican called for “an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers” and stop an “orgy of violence.” The message was in line with President Donald Trump’s aggressive rhetoric earlier this week about using U.S. troops to restore order as protests, some violent, have wracked the nation in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

The Times
NYT,
+2.93%

was excoriated by many on social media for publishing what they called an inflammatory column, and many Times staffers pointed out that their lives could be at risk if what Cotton was urging was actually carried out.

Dozens of Times reporters, columnists, editors and producers tweeted a singular message late Wednesday: “Running this puts black @nytimes staff in danger.”

The message was amplified by hundreds of supporters, both within the media and without, tweeting in solidarity.

Wednesday night, the newspaper’s union condemned the column, saying it “undermines the journalistic work of our members, puts our Black staff members in danger, promotes hate, and is likely to encourage further violence.”

“Cotton’s op-ed pours gasoline on the fire. Media organizations have a responsibility to hold power to account, not amplify voices of power without context and caution,” the union said in a statement.

Former Times op-ed editor Sewell Chan said the decision to publish Cotton’s column “falls short of sound journalistic practice” by being one-sided and not even timely. “It might have been 2 days ago, but Pentagon, @EsperDoD and Mattis have been clearly pushing back. The governors haven’t asked for military deployments—in fact, several told Trump it would make things much worse,” he tweeted.

On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he opposes using troops against protesters, and former Defense Secretary James Mattis issued a scathing statement, condemning Trump’s calls for military intervention as unconstitutional and setting up “a false conflict … between the military and civilian society.”

James Bennet, the editorial page editor of the Times, defended the decision to publish Cotton, in a thread of tweets.

“Times Opinion has published powerful arguments supporting protests, advocating fundamental change and criticizing police abuses,” he said. “Times Opinion owes it to our readers to show them counter-arguments, particularly those made by people in a position to set policy. We understand that many readers find Senator Cotton’s argument painful, even dangerous. We believe that is one reason it requires public scrutiny and debate.”

The Times is not the only major company facing open revolt by its employees over recent events — Facebook Inc.
FB,
-1.10%

workers have increasingly been putting pressure on CEO Mark Zuckerberg for his decision not to fact-check posts by Trump, with some staging walkouts and others quitting. On Wednesday, nearly three dozen of Facebook’s earliest employees, including some who helped author the original community standards, said Zuckerberg was wrong and urged him to reconsider his position.





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Zoom Video earnings and sales blow away expectations, stock rises toward more records


Zoom Video Communications Inc. became a household name during the pandemic, and it showed off the financial effects of its growth Tuesday — record sales and earnings, and expectations for more amid booming stock prices.

Zoom
ZM,
+1.92%

reported net income of $27 million, or 9 cents a share, compared with net income of $200,000, or less than a penny a share, in the year-ago quarter. After adjusting for stock-based compensation and other factors, Zoom reported earnings of 20 cents a share, up from 3 cents a share a year ago.

Revenue improved 169% to $328.2 million from $122 million a year ago. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had expected adjusted earnings of 9 cents a share on sales of $230.6 million.

“The COVID-19 crisis has driven higher demand for distributed, face-to-face interactions and collaboration using Zoom,” Zoom Chief Executive Eric Yuan said in a statement announcing the results. “Use cases have grown rapidly as people integrated Zoom into their work, learning, and personal lives.”

Underscoring its growth, more than 3,000 people attended a Zoom meeting with analysts late Tuesday. During the call, Yuan said, “Video is going to change everything about communication. We have a lot of opportunities ahead of us. The [total addressable market] is bigger than we expected before.”

Executives expect the astounding growth to continue: Zoom’s forecast calls for $495 million to $500 million in the fiscal second quarter, more than double the average analyst estimate. For the full year, Zoom now expects revenue of $1.78 billion to $1.8 billion, nearly double Zoom’s previous annual forecast for a maximum of $915 million in yearly sales. The company now expects full-year adjusted earnings of $1.21 a share to $1.29 a share, after previously guiding for yearly profit of 42 cents to 45 cents a share.

Shares of the videoconferencing platform, which had gleaned record usage of 300 million daily meeting participants as of late April, rose more than 4% in after-hours trading following the announcement before declining 2%. As Zoom’s use has skyrocketed, so has its market capitalization, which crossed $50 billion for the first time Friday. Shares — which sold for $36 in its 2019 initial public offering — closed higher than $200 for the first time Monday and rose 1.9% to a new all-time high of $208.08 Tuesday.

Zoom’s success has not come without safety and security lapses on its platform. Default settings allowed those who weren’t hosting a meeting to share their screens and potentially broadcast inappropriate messages. Zoom has made changes to its default setting and sought to educate users about how to safely use the platform.

See also: Zoom and Slack are worth nearly $50 billion more since coronavirus hit, and now we see the results

“This is an enterprise tool that got a lot of consumer interest, and a lot of them didn’t know how to use it properly,” Rishi Jaluria, an analyst at D.A. Davidson, told MarketWatch in a phone interview before the results were announced. “They were crushing it before COVID-19, which has only accelerated growth.”

Zoom’s stock is up 206% this year. The broader S&P 500 index
SPX,
+0.82%

is down 4.6% in 2020.



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‘A prolonged depression is virtually guaranteed without significant federal aid to state and local governments’


More than 3.1 million workers applied for unemployment benefits in the last recorded week, according to data released Thursday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That includes 1.9 million people who applied for regular state unemployment insurance, plus 1.2 million people who applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA. That’s a new federal program for people who are jobless, but are not eligible for traditional unemployment insurance, including those who are self-employed.

“At this point, 15 states and the District of Columbia are not yet even reporting PUA data. This means PUA claims are still being under-counted,” said Heidi Shierholz, a senior economist and director of policy at the progressive Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. “This is the 10th week in a row that initial unemployment claims are more than three times the worst week of the Great Recession.”

“The unemployment situation is going to get worse before it gets better, and unemployment benefits applications will continue to flood in,” Shierholz said, “and we should never forget that overall numbers mask the fact that recessions do not hit different race and gender groups in the same way, because of things like occupational segregation, discrimination, and other labor market disparities.”

“Policy makers need to do more,” she said. “For example, a prolonged depression is virtually guaranteed without significant federal aid to state and local governments. We also must provide more funding to state unemployment insurance agencies to hire staff to speed up processing and to make improvements to websites and other administrative infrastructure.”

Others have pushed back on fears of another Great Depression. Cullen Roche, author of the “Pragmatic Capitalism blog,” said it’s impossible to make such a prediction. “The U.S. economy is massively different than it used to be,” he wrote. “In 1929, the economy was basically a manufacturing and agriculture economy, with over 40% of GDP coming from those two sectors. In the post-war era, it became massively more diverse. Manufacturing and farming are now only 10% of GDP, and no sector makes up more than 10%.”

He said the country’s current economic status is a self-imposed recession to save lives, not an uncontrollable downturn as was the case during the Great Depression almost a century ago: “The policy response is completely different. In 1929, the government responded in all the wrong ways. It tightened monetary policy, tightened trade, tightened fiscal policy. That exacerbated all the problems that led up to the Depression.”

Dispatches from a pandemic:‘Would you risk your life for a bagel?’ A New Yorker’s 5-point guide to surviving grocery stores during the coronavirus pandemic

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and the number of deaths continues to rise. Coronavirus had infected at least 1,759,725 people in the U.S. as of Saturday afternoon, and killed at least 103,389 people, with 29,710 deaths occurring in New York State alone, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering. Worldwide, there were 5,998,070 confirmed cases of the virus and 367,097 reported deaths.

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. and lockdowns started in mid-March, over 40 million people have applied for jobless benefits, on an unadjusted basis. Initial claims have fallen steadily since hitting a record 6.9 million in the week ending March 28. Shierholz, however, takes a more cautious approach and calculated that approximately 34.2 million workers are now either on unemployment benefits or have applied very recently and are waiting for approval.


‘One of the most effective parts of the CARES Act should be extended well past its expiration at the end of July.’

Calculating that number is complicated. “A total of 19.1 million workers had made it through at least the first round of regular state UI processing as of May 16, and 4.1 million had filed initial UI claims on top of that but had not yet made it through the first round of processing,” she said, “and 7.8 million workers had made it through at least the first round of PUA processing by May 9, and 3.3 million had filed initial PUA claims on top of that but had not yet made it through the first round of processing.”

Roughly two-thirds of jobless people are on traditional unemployment insurance, and one-third are on PUA, Shierholz said. “Together, that is more than one in five people in the U.S. workforce,” she said. Seasonal adjustments of unemployment insurance claims data do not make sense during such an unprecedented time, she said, adding that PUA claims are only available on an unadjusted basis.

The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act stimulus package, passed by the Senate last month, was designed to help the U.S. through the COVID-19 pandemic, of which New York City remains the epicenter. The CARES Act created a $250 billion expansion of unemployment insurance. It will pay unemployed workers $600 a week in federal money on top of whatever sum they receive in their state-level unemployment claim for a period of up to four months.

“One of the most effective parts of the CARES Act should be extended well past its expiration at the end of July — until unemployment is falling rapidly and is at a manageable level,” Shierholz added. If that extra $600 expires, millions of Americans will have less money to spend in stores, and that could lead to more unemployment, she added. Others say the extra $600 discourages lower paid people from going back to work. If the U.S. Senate and President Donald Trump pass the $3 trillion HEROES Act, it would extend the extra $600 into January 2021.

The Moneyist: My husband died from COVID-19. Will the IRS allow me to use his $1,200 stimulus check for funeral and medical expenses?




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