The Grimmest Tax News Of All

As tax time nears, it's nice to know you can always depend on those crisply official forms to document your income--the W-2 from your employer, the 1098 from your mortgage lender, the 1099 from your bank. That's what Charleston County (S.C.) civil servants thought until they opened their W-2 envelopes recently. The forms said they were dead: For 1,500 county employees, the "deceased" box was marked with an "X."

It seems that the computer making out the W-2s completed the entry for a worker who had died, then kept going for all the live ones. County Controller Harold Bisbee says he checked the forms before they were sent out but failed to notice the glitch. "There are no more than four or five people alive" in county government, Bisbee marvels. Charleston County regenerated the W-2s at a cost of $600--and who knows how much Twilight Zone-style angst among the employees.

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