Uncle Sam has gotten much better at collecting the taxes we owe. But better isn't good enough, says a General Accounting Office report.
The IRS pulled in about $1 trillion in 1989. But as of Sept. 30, 1990, taxpayers still owed about $72.2 billion, plus an additional $24 billion in interest and penalties.
In 1983, the IRS introduced an automated collection system, which uses phones and computers to settle claims. It replaced a manual system that depended on written notices.
The system worked so well that 21 ACS centers now do the work of 73 manual offices with half as many people.
But Uncle Sam now says he needs even more technology. Like automatic telephone dialing. Or the ability to answer and route calls automatically.
And technology isn't the only problem. Because the centers are closed during off-hours, the IRS can't reach delinquent taxpayers when they're most likely to be home -- in the evening and on weekends.
Stop losing sleep over your child's college tuition. The Institute of Certified Financial Planners has a free pamphlet with some helpful tips. Call (800) 282-7526 and ask for "Your Children's College Bill: How to Figure It . . . How to Pay It." The booklet may be most helpful to parents with young children -- they still have time to plan.
If your Social Security benefits are reduced because you make too much money, you might consider deferring your government checks. Credits are added on a prorated basis for each month you defer between ages 65 and 70. People who turn 65 in 1991 could add 3.5 percent to their Social Security payments for each year they wait to start collecting.
For example, if you turn 65 this year and your base monthly benefit is $100, it would increase to $107 by waiting until you turn 67.