That Warm And Fuzzy Irs

You may not love the Internal Revenue Service right now, but consider what it has done for you lately. Until this year, only the tiniest businesses (less than $150,000 in gross annual sales) could get a 90% discount on the $5,000 cost of obtaining a private-letter ruling (that's an advance judgment from the IRS on any tricky deduction you want to claim). Now, companies with as much as $1 million in sales pay just $500. Want another break? The IRS is letting employees file even with the incorrect W-2 forms that many small employers gave out this year--the result of a form change that some tax software makers didn't catch. And the IRS has more help-desk services. A hotline (800 829-1040) is open 24 hours. (Try calling in the wee hours when traffic is light; it switches to automated voice mail when lines are busy.) Also, free in-person advice from IRS reps is available at 250 locations. Find when and where by using the term "IR-1999-09" in the search engine on the "Forms and Pubs" page at

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