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On the Road for Tax Overhaul

Trying to harness the surge in anti-IRS sentiment, two Republican tax-code reformers are taking a national "scrap the code" tour.

And from House Speaker Newt Gingrich on down, GOP plans for "fairer, flatter" taxes are sprouting everywhere.

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Suddenly, tax overhaul has become the party's hottest political issue.

It's fueled by congressional hearings into abuses by the Internal Revenue Service. They touched a chord with the American public, generating more interest in a few days than months of hearings into campaign-finance problems .

"People ... did get tax relief" from a bipartisan tax cut this summer, says House majority leader Dick Armey (R) of Texas. "But they also saw no relief from the complexity of the tax code."

Mr. Armey and Rep. Billy Tauzin (R) of Louisiana are headed on a five-city tax tour, sponsored by the conservative Citizens for a Sound Economy. The two will debate the merits of a 17 percent flat tax, which Armey favors, versus a Mr. Tauzin's proposed 15 percent national sales tax. Both plans provide exemptions for poorer Americans.

Unwilling to be outmaneuvered, President Clinton may propose an independent citizens' review panel to monitor complaints against the IRS.

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