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Tax Refunds

April 12, 1995

I have a picture of sadists at the Internal Revenue Service chortling over the success of their latest "gotcha!".

This ambush of the lowest on the totem pole was planned ("IRS Fraud Drive Slows Refunds to Needy Taxpayers," April 1). The IRS might have gone about discouraging cheating by low- income persons in a more humane fashion. The simplest and least expensive method would have been to print a warning on the cover of the 1994 Forms and Instructions pamphlet that those using form 1040 or its variants and claiming more than $XXXX in credits for earned income or dependents were subject to audit and the attendant delays.

They chose surprise. Surprise cost a little more: two extra mailings to each person making such claims.

Neither of the two letters my daughter received from the IRS explain why the delay. The April Fool's Day article in The Times was the first inkling as to why her refund was being held hostage. Her months- long plans to take a vacation and paint her house were blasted when the refund to be used for material and tools did not arrive as expected, even allowing for a heretofore unheard- of month's delay.

We in our house welcome heartily the move in Congress to turn around the Internal Revenue Service's policy of "guilty until you prove yourself innocent." LOUIS ST. MARTIN Pomona

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