1. Archive

Internal Revenue wants you to contact it first

I read a while back that the IRS was having an amnesty day for people who had failed to pay their taxes. The idea was to get these people back in the system without criminal prosecution.

I have tried to find out where I can go to get back into the system but have had no luck getting this information.

No Name

Response: The IRS in its efforts to wear a kinder, gentler face prefers the term "no-file days" to amnesty days. The last time they offered this service 2,600 people lined up to confess their sins to revenue collectors.

According to the IRS, all 2,600 of them expressed relief.

But there is no need to wait for another no-file day to get right with the agency. The IRS says you can call any time and make an appointment.

They tell us that each case is treated individually. Arrangements can be made to pay back taxes in installments. Certain circumstances might even cause the IRS to reduce a person's tax bill.

The important thing, according to the IRS, is that you contact them before they contact you. They say they are stepping up enforcement and if they contact you first, the repercussions will be more serious.

For information, call (800) TAX-1040.

Fee waived after misunderstanding

I was told by someone at Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital that mammography charges included reading the mammogram. Based on that information (my insurer does not pay a separate charge for the reading) I made an appointment.

The hospital's $62 bill was paid, but then a month later I received a $30 bill from Dr. Sherman's office for reading the mammogram.

I said I would not pay it because I did not request the reading and because I was told there would be one inclusive charge.

Now the hospital tells me there is a separate charge. It seems like I was roped into choosing their service and exposing myself to harassment by bill collectors.

This is the first time in my life that anything like this has happened and I would appreciate your help.

Pearl Brust

Response: There are two parts to a diagnostic test _ the test itself and reading the results, said Jerry Touchton, Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital's director of Community Relations. The hospital provides a trained staff member to do the testing and bills for that service. The reading is done by a specially trained physician who routinely bills for his or her service.

Touchton said there is an engraved sign next to the radiology department's reception window telling patients that a separate bill for test reading will be sent by a physician. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding when you initially asked about separate billings.

In any event, to clear up misunderstandings or ill feelings, Dr. Sherman has agreed to waive the charge for reading your mammogram.

Flush drugs from open containers

Is there any organization that will take prescription drugs? My husband died recently and would not want me to throw out his unused medicines if someone else can use them.

Joan McElroy

Response: Federal law does not permit organizations to accept medication that has been opened or that is unprotected against tampering, according to Gerry Korth, a registered nurse and director of the medical clinic at the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. That includes liquid medication in bottles with screw caps and those little brown plastic containers of pills that your druggist packs with cotton.

The contents of these containers could have been contaminated unintentionally with germs or intentionally with poison and should be disposed of by flushing them down a toilet, Ms. Korth said. For safety reasons, do not put them in your garbage container.

In Pinellas County the Free Clinic, 821-9590, will accept for reuse any medications in a container with an unbroken, sealed top or medication that comes in sealed unit doses _ individually packaged aspirin tablets, for example.

In Hillsborough County, the Judeo Christian Clinic, 870-0395, also accepts such sealed medications.


Thank you for getting the antique cars delivered to me. I ordered them Dec. 5 for a Christmas gift. They just arrived.

Mary Lou Brown

I want to thank you for your help. Our St. Petersburg Times is now being delivered on our sidewalk where we can pick it up.

Paul Adams

Action solves problems and gets answers for you. If you have a question, or your own attempts to resolve a consumer complaint have failed, write: Times Action, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or call your Action number, 893-8171, to leave a recorded request for Action.

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