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The taxman cometh

Just when many Arkansans thought the tax season was behind them have come notices to a number of residents that on-line electronic filing is not strictly an electronic process in some cases.

When a taxpayer files electronically herself – not using a paid tax preparer – she still must later file a paper signature document and paper copies of W-2 and other income reporting forms. Paid preparers are expected to retain these documents for the people they serve and are subject to random audits to see that they do. Independent filers have no choice but to mail them in, a fact that is confirmed in a match-up process after most returns have been handled.

David Foster, the state's income tax administrator, says about 53 percent of the state's taxpayers, or more than 640,000, now file electronically. Of those, about 90,000 file their own returns. Though some forget to send along the paper documents, Foster said, the number is relatively small. The error rate on electronic filing is about 2 to 3 percent, compared with 16 to 18 percent on paper filings, he said.

Checkbook journalism

Dr. Nancy Snyderman, the former Little Rock physician who rose from local TV to slots as a medical correspondent for both ABC and NBC, has run into another spot of ethical trouble.

Snyderman, who once drew fire for paid TV commercials she did for Tylenol while working as a network medical correspondent, got attention last week from the Daily Kos website for turning up, along with a couple of other journalists, on the America's Health Insurance Plans Speakers Network. AHIP is a lobby for health insurers. Its website listed Snyderman as a member of its “speakers network.” The list was removed after the Daily Kos report. AHIP, among others, opposes coverage mandates on health insurance plans, among other legislative issues.

Snyderman's bio remained on the AHIP website after her name was removed from the “speakers network,” the Media Matters website reported. It said she received speaking fees ranging between $30,000 and $50,000. Snyderman, who now works for NBC, took a break between an earlier stint with ABC to work for Johnson and Johnson, another giant in the health care field.

Hillary returns

U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, who was greeted recently by a huge crowd for a state Democratic Party dinner, will be back in the state Aug. 20 for a pure campaign appearance. Details haven't been announced, but she's expected to visit both Fayetteville and Little Rock and events are expected to include a “young professionals” afternoon event for a relatively modest ticket price (perhaps $150). All the presidential candidates are trying to expand the number of campaign contributors, as well as going after the usual major donors. The fat cats won't be overlooked. A big-ticket event at the Edgehill home of Kaki Hockersmith and Max Mehlburger is expected to cap the trip.



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