Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Politicians Look at Reform as Taxpayers Rush to Beat Deadline

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Politicians Look at Reform as Taxpayers Rush to Beat Deadline

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- As millions scrambled Monday to meet tonight's tax deadline, politicians engaged in a related spring ritual: a lot of ideas for reform and a little IRS bashing.

The Clinton administration proposed a package of 60 mostly minor initiatives to simplify the tax code, such as making tax payments with a credit card and streamlining rules for claiming deductions for dependent children younger than 19.

Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, geared up for a week's worth of events making a case for dramatic tax reform and focusing on allegations of mismanagement and computer problems at the Internal Revenue Service. "I am convinced that if most members of Congress did their own taxes, we would have had tax reform long ago," said House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Archer, R-Texas, who wants to replace the tax code with a national sales tax. Post offices in nearly every major city will extend hours or offer late mail pickups Tuesday night. Some offices are planning special events: At the post office in the northern California city of Pleasanton, taxpayers can seek revenge by dunking an IRS agent in a water tank. President and Mrs. Clinton did their filing early and released the results on Monday. They reported income of just over $1 million -- nearly three-fourths of it from Mrs. Clinton's book "It Takes a Village" -- and paid taxes of about $200,000. They gave the book's proceeds to charity after taking out enough to pay for the taxes on the book royalties. Meanwhile, the private Tax Foundation estimated that the average American will see his entire paycheck spent in taxes through May 9 - - the 128th day of the year. If taxpayers feel beat up after finishing their taxes this year, that's nothing compared to the almost daily drubbing of the IRS. Critics portray the agency as wasting billions on a computer system upgrade, condemn IRS workers for snooping into tax files and accuse the agency of singling out conservative groups for audits. But taxpayers don't seem to be focusing on that. "It's pretty much a red herring," Mike Calo, a 39-year-old computer programmer in Annapolis, Md., said of the IRS problems. And an Associated Press poll last week found seven in 10 adults giving the agency a positive rating on its ability to promptly and accurately handle returns and inquiries. …

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