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PUTTING HIS DIPLOMA TO USE

The robbery was proceeding surprisingly well: A suspect entered First Utah Bank in Salt Lake City on New Year's Eve, slid a gun from a large envelope, and demanded cash. He fled with $35,000 to help welcome in Y2K. But he got to spend little of it because a clue led the FBI right to him. Also in that envelope - and left behind in haste - was a certificate for completing an anger-management class from the state Department of Corrections.

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HEY, IT'S ONLY MONEY

Then there's the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, which has a different cash-disappearance problem. It must shred $1.35 billion in currency that was stockpiled in case of a run on savings deposits by Y2K-anxious New Zealanders over the final weeks of last year. But so few requested their money that local banks didn't need the emergency notes.

Complex laws identified as chief problem for taxpayers

It's the time of year most taxpayers dread: when the federal income tax form arrives in the mail. Not only because it means parting with hard-earned cash, but also because the tax laws seem only to grow more complex. Indeed, Val Oveson, appointed by the Internal Revenue Service as the nation's taxpayer advocate, identifies the code as the top problem for those pre-paring their own returns. His list:

* Complexity of tax code

* Unclear or threatening communications from the IRS

* Improper filing of earned- income tax credit claims

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* IRS's lack of one-stop service

* Inconsistent application of tax penalties

* Inability to reach IRS via toll-free phone numbers

* IRS's failure to acknowledge receipt of correspondence and payments

* Difficulty in handling tax matters involving divorced or separated couples

* Inconsistent, unclear "offer in compromise" program for people who can't pay

* Lost or misapplied checks to the IRS

- Associated Press

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society


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