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U.S. tax code too complex, report says

Washington

Biggest tax problem cited: complexity

Too intimidated to do your tax return without help? Join the club. At nearly 4 million words, the U.S. tax law is so thick and complicated that businesses and individuals spend 6 billion hours a year complying with filing requirements, according to a report Wednesday by an independent government watchdog. That's equal to 3 million people working full-time, year-round. "If tax compliance were an industry, it would be one of the largest in the United States," says the report by Nina E. Olson, the national taxpayer advocate. Olson ranks complexity as the most serious tax problem facing taxpayers and the IRS in her annual report to Congress. She urges lawmakers to overhaul tax laws, making them simpler, clearer and easier to comply with.

Midland, Texas

Float driver won't face charges

A grand jury on Wednesday declined to indict the driver of a float involved in a train collision that killed four U.S. military veterans in a west Texas parade. Dale Andrew Hayden, the driver of the truck pulling the float, won't face charges stemming from the Nov. 15 accident that injured 16 others. Though the grand jury did not indict Hayden, it "has not concluded its review of the incident," according to Midland County District Attorney Teresa Clingman.

El Paso, Texas

Missile plot yields nearly 3 years

A federal judge sentenced a British businessman to 33 months in prison Wednesday for trying to buy surface-to-air missile parts from undercover U.S. agents to resell to Iran. Christopher Tappin, 66, pleaded guilty in November to aiding and abetting to export defense materials.

Elsewhere

North Korea: A private delegation including Google's Eric Schmidt on Wednesday urged North Korea to allow more open Internet access and cellphones to benefit its citizens in a country with some of the world's tightest controls on information.

Gabon: Talks on the crisis in Central African Republic began Wednesday with representatives of the government, rebels and other groups gathering in this nearby country.

Jordan: The fiercest winter storm to hit the Mideast in years brought a rare foot of snow to Jordan on Wednesday, caused fatal accidents in Lebanon and the West Bank, and disrupted traffic on the Suez Canal in Egypt. At least eight people died.

Times wires

U.S. tax code too complex, report says 01/09/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 11:15pm]
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  1. Dade City's Wild Things blocks PETA officials at gates for court-ordered site inspection

    Wildlife

    Times Staff Writer

    DADE CITY — Dade City's Wild Things founder Kathy Stearns refused to let People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals officials enter her facility on Thursday for a court-ordered inspection, court filings show.

    Dade City's Wild Things founder Kathy Stearns refused to let People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals officials enter her facility on Thursday for a court-ordered inspection, court filings show. This comes four days after 19 Wild Things tigers arrived at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma. A judge had granted an emergency injunction July 14, ordering Stearns not remove any tigers pending the upcoming PETA inspection. Photo from Facebook page of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma.
  2. St. Petersburg City Council approves $326 million sewage fix

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Last week the City Council learned no criminal charges would result from the up to 200 million gallons of sewage St. Petersburg's sewer system released from …

    [LARA CERRI  |  Times]
  3. Pasco commuters watch out: Broken water main restricts State Road 52

    Public Safety

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A water main break has caused a portion of State Road 52 — one of the busiest roads in Pasco County — to buckle on Thursday afternoon, reducing three lanes of westbound traffic to just one.

  4. Police identify man who drove along Clearwater Beach sand

    Public Safety

    CLEARWATER — Clearwater Police have identified the Pinellas Park man who they said drove his car over beach chairs and umbrellas along Clearwater Beach and streamed it on Facebook on Thursday afternoon.

    Clearwater Police took a suspect into custody Thursday afternoon after he drove along Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island, running over beach chairs and umbrellas. [Courtesy of Clearwater Police]
  5. Once trapped and wounded, manatee and calf return to the wild

    Wildlife

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The small crowd readied cameras and craned their necks, peering over heads and through bodies to try and catch a glimpse. Brittany Pharel, 10, wanted to see the hulking manatees, a mother and her calf, laid out on blue tarps Thursday along the edge of the Pithlachascotee River.

    Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo's associate veterinarian Lauren Smith, 33, examines the heart rate of a manatee calf named Cottee just before it was released into the waters of the Pithlachascotee River on Thursday. 
Cottee's mother Pascow was released at the same time in New Port Richey. 
The pair became stranded in May and the mother was found wounded. They needed to be rehabilitated before they could be released into open waters. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]