* REFORM PANEL RULES OUT NATIONAL SALES TAX: The President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform ruled out a proposed national retail sales tax, and said that it would instead suggest changes to the current Internal Revenue Code framework, such as slashing benefits for mortgages and health care. The nine-member panel said that curbing benefits would help achieve the panel's original goal of simplifying the current tax code, while at the same time funding the cost of repealing the controversial alternative minimum tax.While agreeing that a national retail tax would boost revenue, the panel said that a hybrid tax would raise issues of "simplicity and fairness."

At press time, the panel, which since its creation has held 11 meetings, was scheduled to deliver its recommendations to the Bush Administration on November 1.

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