By Dolores Kong
The Boston Globe

No, that letter from the IRS that says "Do Not Throw
Away" in big red type isn't an audit notice.

Like 112 million other taxpayers across the country,
you've just received the Internal Revenue Service's
notification about the much ballyhooed quick rebate of
up to $600 under the new tax law signed by President

Most taxpayers were told how much their check will be
for and when they can expect to receive it, while some
were told they don't qualify at all, but may be able
to apply for a credit on the 2001 tax returns. Others
may not get their notices for a few more weeks because
of a delay in processing their returns.

But soon after the IRS began mailing those notices a
couple of weeks ago, the agency found it had made a
mistake in the letters to about 523,000 taxpayers,
telling them they would be getting more than they
actually will.

How did the mistake happen? Computer programming
error. The problem affects certain taxpayers who last
year claimed so-called nonrefundable credits such as
the Child Tax Credit, the education credits, and the
child or dependent care credits. The IRS says it has
fixed the error and sent a follow-up notice correcting
the amount for those taxpayers.

In the meanwhile, the IRS announced its schedule for
sending out payments to qualifying taxpayers, based on
the last two digits of their Social Security number.
(See accompanying chart.) For married taxpayers who
filed jointly, the first Social Security number on the
return determines the date.

Single taxpayers qualify for up to $300, heads of
household up to $500, and married couples filing
jointly up to $600. The rebate is based on a newly
created 10 percent tax bracket this year, although the
IRS is using 2000 tax returns to calculate it.

So that means any taxpayer who hasn't yet filed a 2000
tax return may not be getting a check this year, and
may have to wait until next year to claim a credit.
And any taxpayer who has moved since filing the 2000
tax return should fill out a change of address form
with the US Postal Service, the IRS says.

Gen Xers may be readier for retirement than baby
boomers, according to a national consumer poll by
Maritz Research of St. Louis.

While Americans overall appear to be poor savers -
with 20 percent saying they have put away nothing for
retirement and 13 percent saying they have put away
less than $5,000 - the poorest of all savers appear to
be those closest to retirement, according to the
random poll of more than 1,000 US adults.

For instance, 26 percent of those surveyed between the
ages of 55 and 64 said they have saved less than
$5,000 for retirement, and 24 percent of those between
the ages of 35 and 54 said they have saved less than
that amount.

By contrast, people in younger generations report
having socked away much more, with 12 percent of those
surveyed between the ages of 18 and 24 saying they
have saved between $5,000 and $10,000, and 33 percent
of those between 25 and 34 saying they have saved more
than $5,000 and as much as $25,000.

Younger generations appear to be looking at retirement
savings more seriously than previous generations, said
Phil Wiseman, vice president of marketing for Maritz
Research in a statement. For baby boomers and older,
the retirement picture is not quite so pretty.