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September 25, 1997 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-25

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 25, 1997
Arafat orders arrests
of suspected militants .

NATION/WORLD
""" '

Taxpayers testify
to IRS nightmares

NABLUS, West Bank (AP) -Yasser
Ar4fat ordered the arrests of 20 sus-
pected Islamic militants yesterday and
tightened security around jailed Hamas
activists after Israeli accusations that
four men responsible for recent suicide
bombings had walked out of a
Palestinian jail.
Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu, meanwhile, said Israel
would continue expanding Jewish set-
tlements -- a move sure to anger the
Palestinians and irritate the United
States, which had asked Israel for a
temporary halt in settlement building.
Speaking last night in the West Bank
settlement of Efrat, Netanyahu said
construction would begin soon on 300
new apartments there.
"We are building both in Efrat and in
Judea and Samaria," he said, using the
biblical name for the West Bank, and
we are going to build more, both in
Efrat and around it ... The land of Israel
is being built in front of our eyes, and
that's a good thing."
Earlier this month, Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright had asked for a

"time-out" in Israeli settlement building
in order to help get the peace process
back on track. Netanyahu's government
rejected that request, saying there could
be no movement in the peace process
until Palestinians did more to fight ter-
rorism.
None of the militants detained by the
Palestinians in the West Bank city of
Nablus yesterday were on Israel's want-
ed list. Israel's Channel Two television,
quoting unnamed security sources, said
there were "specific warnings" of
another bomb attack in the near future.
The arrests came a day after Israel
identified four suicide bombers from
two recent attacks in Jerusalem as
Hamas activists from the village of
Assira, near Nablus. The July 30 and
Sept. 4 attacks killed 25 people, includ-
ing five bombers.
"After revealing the identities of the
suicide bombers, many in the world -
including the U.S.A., and I allow myself
to say even the Palestinian Authority -
understand the inescapable need to fight
against terrorism," Netanyahu said.
The Israeli announcement deeply

APPHlOTO
A blindfolded Palestinian sits next to an Israeli army jeep as he Is guarded by a
soldier outside the West Bank yesterday.

embarrassed Arafat. The four had
walked out of a loosely guarded
Palestinian jail in Nablus last year, and
their names were on a list of 88 Islamic
militants Israel had given the
Palestinian Authority with the demand
they be arrested.
The Palestinians have countered that
Assira and other West Bank villages,
though administered by them, are under
full Israeli security control. The

Palestinians have full control over only
seven West Bank cities.
Arafat yesterday dismissed Israel
accusations that he was partly to blame
for the July 30 and Sept. 4 bombings in
Jerusalem because he hadn't done
enough to crack down on militants.
It is not our responsibility," Arafat
told reporters. "I can do 100 percent
effort, but no one in the world can give
100 percent results."

EMN

SUNDAY SPECIAL

The Washington Post
WASHINGTON - A series of har-
ried taxpayers, accountants, lawyers
and others portrayed the Internal
Revenue Service yesterday as an uncar-
ing, arrogant agency with workers who
will go so far as to fabricate cases to
collect taxes that aren't due.
A New York priest, a Delaware coi-
tractor and a California bank worker
were among those who related
Kafkaesque experiences in which tax
agency personnel and computers pur-
sued them for years, ignoring evidence
of innocence and even actual payments,
seizing their assets and generally
wreaking havoc in their lives.
"The IRS is judge, jury and execu-
tioner - answerable to none," said
Katherine Lund Hicks of Apple Valley,
Calif.
Hicks testified that she was hit with
$7,000 in back taxes stemming from a
divorce, saw the amount balloon to
S16,000 while the IRS sent notices only
to her ex-spouse, thought she had set-
tled with the agency for $3,500, only to
have her payments returned one
moment and her property and that of
her new husband seized the next.
The testimony came at the second of
three days of hearings on the IRS by the
Senate Finance Committee, which is
looking into allegations of abuse and
mismanagement by the agency.
Deputy Treasury Secretary
Lawrence Summers said his depart-
ment, the IRS's parent, takes such
cases very seriously. "That's why
we've been working aggressively over
the last several years to correct these
long-standing problems. We're work-
ing to transform the culture of the
IRS" and to modernize its informa-
tion technology, he said.
The politically charged hearings have
raised Democrats' suspicions that
Republicans are bashing the IRS as
both a campaign fund-raising device
and as part of an effort to undermine
the current tax code so it can be
replaced with a flat tax or some kind of
national sales tax.
Committee Chair William Roth Jr.,
(R-Del.), denied partisan intent, saying
his panel has uncovered serious prob-
lems that need attention.
Tom Savage, a 69-year-old contrac-
tor from Lewes, Del., told the panel he
was working on a prison construction
project for the state of Delaware in

1993, when it turned out that a subcon-
tractor had not paid his payroll taxes.
When the IRS found it could not cole
fromi the subcontractor, it turnedW
attention to Savage's company.
After failing to hold Savage person-
ally liable, he said an IRS employee
fabricated a partnership between
Savage's firm and the subcontractor,
had the agency issue an employer iden-
tification number for this entity, and
assessed Savage for the subcontractor's
liability.
"He created a company that did not
exist," Savage said.
Savage appealed, but while he wa"
waiting for a hearing, the IRS seized a
$145,000 payment from the state to his
company. He sued, but the IRS made it
clear it would fight, and Savage, unable
to pay his bills, settled, paying $50,000.
At yesterday's hearing, the commit-
tee produced an internal memo from
the Justice Department to the IRS dis-
trict counsel that said in effect that the
agency had no case against Savage. *
Monsignor Lawrence Ballweg told of
having the IRS threaten to seize his
bank account and car when, as it turned
out, he did not owe any taxes.
As trustee for a charitable trust set
up by his mother's will, Ballweg filed
the trust's 1995 tax return. Last year,
while in Florida, he said he got a
notice that he owed S18,000. He'
called the IRS in Atlanta, saying his
records were in New York and askini
for a copy of the return. The agent
refused, but told him to fill out a form
and send a check for $14 to obtain a
copy.
Ballweg did so but the agency said
his name, Lawrence Ballweg, was not
the name on the return. The name on
the return was "Lawrence F. Ballweg
Trustee U/W Elizabeth D. Ballweg.'
He said he wrote a long letter
explaining the situation and aga
requesting a copy of the file. "Instead!
received a 'Final Notice' ... in which I
was told that the IRS intended to take
steps to take my bank account, auto or
other property,"he said.
Ballweg heard of the Finan~e
Committee investigation and wrote-a
letter. The results were dramatic.
CNN put his case on television, "and
the next day I received a call from an
IRS taxpayer advocate, received
copy of my file and was advised hoW
to make the necessary adjustments."

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