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Old Tax Records Filled City Streets At Parade For Royals

November 3, 1985

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Through a loading dock mix-up, the partially shredded remnants of original, filled-out federal tax forms were used as confetti in the victory parade for the World Series champion Kansas City Royals.

Officials said there was no way to know how many of the financially revealing tax forms became part of the 30-ton paper mix distributed to revelers along the two-mile route of Monday’s parade.

″It’s kind of upsetting that your personal business is flying around out there on the street for just any old body to pick up,″ said Richard A. Williams of Prairie Village. A five-inch square of his 1981 federal tax return was found in downtown alley stairwell.

″I don’t know how that stuff ended up in the parade, but it was poor judgment,″ he said.

Last month, when the Royals made it to the World Series, the city Parks and Recreation Department went in search of paper to use for a ticker-tape parade.

One of the places that donated paper was the Rehabilitation Institute, a non-profit training center for the physically, mentally and emotionally handicapped. Workers at the institute shred paper into confetti.

One of the institute’s clients is an H&R Block Inc. division office in Johnson County, Kan., that needed to destroy tax forms from the late 1970s and early 1980s. The company keeps the forms for three years in the case the Internal Revenue Service audits a client, said Bernie Smith, a reional manager for H&R Block.

A couple of weeks ago, several boxes of roughly torn tax statements, which were waiting to be shredded, were mistakenly loaded onto a Parks and Recreation truck that had stopped at the institute to pick up boxes of confetti.

A supervisor warned city employees about the boxes of tax forms, but a second group of city workers was not alerted and loaded the boxes anyway, said Gene Livingston, manager of the institute workshop.

″Normally, we keep such tight control over things,″ he said. ″We feel so bad about it. We just screwed up.″

IRS Public Affairs Officer Bill Akright said H&R Block had not made any official blunders under federal law, although IRS officials questioned donating even shredded tax records for such a purpose.

″H&R Block deeply regrets this incident,″ Smith said. ″Every precaution is taken to ensure that file copies of old tax returns are destroyed in a fashion that will preserve the confidentiality of such returns.″

City officials said they were not concerned about trying to collect the ripped and discarded tax forms because street maintenance workers soaked most of the scrap paper, compressed it and hauled it to a landfill.

″One thing’s sure,″ said Bill Nichols, assistant manager of streets. ″The stuff out there is mashed and unrecognizable.″

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