The Internal Revenue Service is planning to help solve its budget problems by eliminating its toll-free telephone service, where taxpayers call and ask an IRS staffer questions about tax issues. Last week a House Appropriations subcommittee voted to require that the IRS continue the service. The battle is just begun. "We feel taxpayers will be able to get answers to their questions even though not able to call in and get one-on-one service," an IRS official said.

Another thing the tax man wants to do to help himself is to require people who make quarterly estimated tax payments to do so through the Federal Tax Deposit (FTD) system instead of mailing them to the closest IRS service center. Under the proposed system, you would get an IRS-issued FTD card and take it and your money to a federal depository bank (in many cases, the bank in your neighborhood). Your money and the information necessary to keep you off the IRS's bad-guy list would be transferred electronically to the Treasury, saving handling costs and improve that all-important cashflow. IRS will hold a public hearing on this proposal Sept. 28 at 10 a.m. in the IRS Auditorium on the 7th floor of the IRS building at 1111 Constitution Ave. NW.