Nation Briefs

Software glitch delays 660,000 tax refunds

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service says 660,000 taxpayers will have their refunds delayed by up to six weeks because of a problem with the software they used to file their tax returns.

The delay affects people claiming education tax credits who filed returns between Feb. 14 and Feb. 22.

H&R Block, the tax preparing giant, says that some of its customers were affected but the company has resolved the problem.

A limited number of other software companies have also had problems, but IRS spokeswoman Michelle Eldridge declined to name them.

Turbo Tax customers were not affected, spokeswoman Julie Miller said.

The IRS expects to process about 150 million tax returns from individuals, so less than 1 percent will be affected. About 6.6 million taxpayers are expected to claim the education tax credits.

The software problem was on Form 8863, which is used to claim the American Opportunity credit, which provides up to $2,500 to help pay for college expenses, and the Lifetime Learning credit, which provides up to $2,000.

Senate GOP tells Obama to tone down attacks

WASHINGTON – Polite yet firm, Senate Republicans told President Barack Obama on Thursday to tone down his political attacks and prod Democratic allies to support controversial changes in Medicare if he wants a compromise reducing deficits and providing stability to federal benefit programs.

Participants at a 90-minute closed-door meeting said Obama acknowledged the point without yielding ground – and said that Republicans criticize him freely. “To quote an old Chicago politician, ‘Politics ain’t beanbag,’” the president said.

The discussion came as Obama wrapped up a highly publicized round of meetings with rank-and-file lawmakers in both parties and both houses of Congress in hopes of building support for a second-term agenda of deficit reduction, immigration overhaul and gun control.

Obama met separately with Senate Republicans and House Democrats as legislation to lock in $85 billion in spending cuts and avert a government shutdown March 27 made plodding progress. Separately, the two parties advanced rival longer-term budgets in both houses.

Associated Press