- The Washington Times - Friday, April 10, 2009

When the federal government offered money to states as part of the stimulus plan, a few states’ governors _ for various reasons _ said, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

So what happens to the money that was supposed to go to these states?

That’s one of the questions in this edition of “Ask AP,” a weekly Q&A; column where AP journalists respond to readers’ questions about the news.

If you have your own news-related question that you’d like to see answered by an AP reporter or editor, send it to [email protected], with “Ask AP” in the subject line. And please include your full name and hometown so they can be published with your question.

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Kyrgyzstan is seeking to close down the U.S. Manas air base, which supports U.S. operations in Afghanistan, and Russia is suspected of influencing that decision by providing Kyrgyzstan with billions in aid.

Doesn’t Russia want a stable Afghanistan? Shouldn’t they be helping us to achieve that goal?

Daniel Lippman

Washington

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Russia may in fact have more to fear from the spiraling violence in Afghanistan than the United States does.

Much of former Soviet Central Asia _ which includes Kyrgyzstan _ is still very impoverished, ruled by weak governments and faces the threat of violence from radical Islamic forces. If Afghanistan’s violence or radical Islamic ideologies spread, they could spill northward and destabilize those countries.

Russia is also grappling with surging illegal drug use and much of Afghanistan’s illegal drug crop _ destined for Europe or other Western markets _ is trafficked through Russia’s porous and corruption-rife borders.

However, Russia also considers Central Asia part of its historic sphere of influence and has long been wary of the U.S. presence there, set up after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Also, despite its poverty, Central Asia has substantial oil and gas reserves. In recent years, Russia has jockeyed with the United States, as well as China, for influence in the region _ with an eye toward securing access to those valuable reserves.

Mike Eckel

Associated Press Writer

Moscow

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What is going to happen to the federal stimulus funding that was allocated to states whose governors rejected the money?

Gene Smith

Virginia Beach, Va.

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Some Republican governors, including Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, made headlines by rejecting hundreds of millions of dollars for state unemployment systems. But it wasn’t really a rejection. Here’s what happened:

Before they can get the unemployment money, states must adopt more liberal unemployment laws. That will cost money long after the stimulus is spent, so conservative governors don’t want to change the laws. But that’s still not a rejection because states have until 2011 to qualify _ if legislators force the change, if governors change their minds or if voters change their governors, states can apply for the money later.

If that doesn’t happen, the money goes back to the Treasury Department, where _ depending on how you interpret the government’s heavily out-of-balance balance sheets _ it’ll be spent on other programs or it will slightly reduce the huge federal deficit.

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is considering refusing $700 million in education money, saying he prefers to use the money to pay down state debt. If that money doesn’t get spent, it could get distributed to other states.

It’s important to remember in all this that governors control only a fraction of the $787 billion in stimulus money. Washington spends the rest through existing programs.

Matt Apuzzo

Associated Press Writer

Washington

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I have a savings account that I had to open with my father because of my age at the time. My father now owes the IRS money so the IRS cleared my account, with my hard-earned money in it. Is there any way I could try to get my money back from the IRS? After all, they took my money, not his.

John Byron

Dennis, Mass.

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The time to act, I’m afraid, was before your father ran up his tax bill.

When someone owes back taxes, the Internal Revenue Service can step in and access any account the delinquent taxpayer could access, including joint accounts, said Marc Dombrowski, a Buffalo, N.Y.-based tax consultant and enrolled agent _ someone who represents taxpayers before the IRS.

Commonly called the “kiddie levy” because it frequently involves the savings accounts of younger children, the rule applies even if adult children can prove they made the deposits and paid taxes on the accounts in question.

In a precedent-setting case, the Supreme Court allowed the IRS to take money a tax-delinquent couple’s two kids earned on their paper route, because it was in accounts held jointly with the father, and their grandmother’s savings, which was in a joint account with the mother.

“It doesn’t matter how the money got there,” Dombrowski said. “What matters is, it’s an account linked with his Social Security number. It’s infected.”

Eileen AJ Connelly

AP Personal Finance Writer

New York

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Have questions of your own? Send them to [email protected]


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