IRS Reform: The Most Lovable Issue

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WASHINGTON: Before President Clinton left for China -- and nine days of certain controversy -- he made sure his last official act was hard to complain about: IRS reform. "He wants to stay out front on this issue," says TIME White House correspondent Karen Tumulty. "The Republicans got ahead of him with all those emotional hearings last year, and now he can't afford to disagree with them."

Although the bill will actually cost taxpayers $13 billion over the next 10 years, it's loaded with real benefits for citizens: Shifting the burden of proof in noncriminal cases from taxpayers to the agency; helping divorced women avoid paying for their deadbeat husband's debts; a break on the capital gains tax for investors. After all, $13 billion spread over a decade of budgets isn't much to pay -- not for a kinder, gentler IRS.