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Computer Error on President Is Taxing Predicament

October 06, 1987|ANN CONNORS

Internal Revenue Service officials were somewhat unnerved when they saw that among the tax liens recently entered into their computers was one in Travis County, Tex., against President Reagan. The lien was soon traced to an enthusiastic IRS trainee who, in re-creating a demonstration by her trainer, punched in the name he had used in his example, that of one Ronald Reagan. Erasing the error proved to be a lot more complicated than making it; the phony lien remains a permanent entry in the agency's computer files, an IRS spokesman said. The President would never have heard from the IRS anyway, said Rod Young, an IRS spokesman. The entry had a bogus Social Security number and a fictitious address. "Pure and simple, this was a mistake made by someone who never had any intention of creating any sort of difficulty," said IRS Public Affairs Director Ellen Murphy.

--A penny saved is a penny earned, unless you can get 70,000 people to donate them, which, in the case of an 18-year-old in Illinois, has already netted him $14,000. With aspirations of attending the University of Illinois, Mike Hayes of Rochelle wrote Chicago Tribune columnist Bob Greene asking for help in the form of penny donations. "I didn't ask for a lot of money," Hayes said. "I just asked for money from a lot of people--2.8 million people (of Chicago)." And money he got. Letters have included dollar bills and checks for $100 and, with $14,000 already in their college coffers, the Hayes family still has 18,000 letters left to open. Some of the respondents also sent some friendly advice. "Here's a penny," wrote one. "If you use it to buy drugs I hope a bolt of lightning strikes you dead."

--One wrong turn led to another and another and another until, after wandering through four states, a 79-year-old Florida man finally made his way back to a Georgia cabin he had left a week before. Joseph Stophel had just left a realty office five miles from the Blairsville cabin where he had been staying when he got lost. He subsequently rambled through Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana and back again before a woman who knew of his disappearance spotted his white Cadillac just outside Blairsville. A Georgia doctor who examined Stophel said his memory may have been affected by a slight stroke. Stophel said he had an address book beside him in the car, but did not think of calling anyone for help. "I just never gave it a thought. The mind works funny," he said.

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