[Hpn] IRS and homelessness

William Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Mon, 7 Apr 2003 06:59:33 -0400


SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- A homeless man billed for $6 million in taxes by the
Internal Revenue Service has been notified it was a mistake.
John Ramer, known as the "six million dollar man" by his buddies at the
Union Gospel Mission in Salem, was told Friday that his $5,981,104.02 tax
bill was an error and he owed nothing.
The IRS refused to comment on the case, but an agency spokeswoman previously
confirmed that they were looking into Ramer's complaints.
Ramer, 30, said the agency's Taxpayer Advocate Service traced the source of
the mistake to an employer's computer glitch in 1994.
The problem started with some malfunctioning magnetic tape. Instead of
reporting earnings of $35 to the IRS for a few hours work at a bowling
alley, the mistake ballooned Ramer's pay to more than $2 million. Penalties
and interest boosted the tax amount into the $6 million range.
"It was just the luck of the draw that it happened to me," Ramer said.
His former boss said he didn't remember Ramer's brief stint behind the snack
counter, but he did recall there were some problems with the company's W-2
forms about 10 years ago.
Despite wide publicity about the case, Ramer says his financial situation
has not improved. He said a television reporter bought him lunch, and
someone gave him a T-shirt that says, "I'm not really a bum, but I play one
on TV."


2003 Associated Press