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FORBES, BUSINESS GROUP, SENATOR BACK PAXON'S BILL TO REWRITE ENTIRE TAX CODE

Rep. Bill Paxon, R-Amherst, appears to be building some momentum behind his move to rip the U.S. tax code to shreds.

Steve Forbes, the former Republican presidential candidate and flat-tax advocate, on Wednesday threw his support behind a Paxon bill that would repeal most sections of the tax code at the end of the year 2000 in hopes of forcing Congress to draw up something better.

The nation's most prominent small-business group also announced its support for Paxon's initiative in a Capitol Hill news conference, and Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., announced that he is pushing the bill in the Senate.

Standing behind a 2 1/2 -foot-high pile of books that Paxon called an abbreviated version of the tax code, Forbes said: "This bill will start the great national debate on reforming the tax code. . . . With a beast like this, the only thing you can do is to kill it."

To help do just that, the National Federation of Independent Business is planning a national effort to push Paxon's bill. The group's "Campaign to Abolish the IRS Code" aims to collect more than a million signatures from small business people on a petition to Congress.

The bill would abolish all parts of the tax code except those that fund Social Security and Medicare. The tax code has to be replaced, Paxon said, because any piecemeal attempt to reform it only ends up making the tax code more complicated.

"It amounts to rearranging the deck chairs on the tax Titanic," Paxon said.

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