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Over 1,600 in Md. have unclaimed tax refunds

The Internal Revenue Service is waiting for Marylanders to claim more than 1,600 refund checks from the 2008 filing season worth more than $1.7 million. The IRS said Thursday that the checks averaging $1,086 were returned to the agency from Maryland because of mailing address errors. Some taxpayers are owed more than one check. Nationally, the IRS said 107,831 checks worth a total of $123.5 million were returned. Taxpayers owed a refund can update their address online with the "Where's My Refund?" tool at www.irs.gov. They must submit a Social Security number, filing status and the amount of refund due. Or, taxpayers can call the IRS to update their addresses at 800-829-1954.

-Eileen Ambrose

Civic activist wins planning, design award

A longtime civic activist in Baltimore has been selected to receive the annual Larry Reich Award during a ceremony Nov. 11 at the Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave. Sandy Sparks, former executive director of the Greater Homewood Community Corp. and former director of the Midtown Community Benefits District, is this year's winner of the award, which is sponsored by the Neighborhood Design Center and Baltimore's Department of Planning. Named for a former director of the planning department, the Reich award recognizes people for work that reflects a commitment to community-based planning and design in Baltimore. It will be presented as part of the Neighborhood Design Center's "Power of Place" fundraiser from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m at the Creative Alliance.

-Edward Gunts

Instead of foreclosure, borrowers can rent homes

Government-controlled mortgage company Fannie Mae is going to give borrowers on the verge of foreclosure the option of renting their homes for a year. The change announced Thursday could give a temporary break to thousands of homeowners, but critics question whether it will add to the mushrooming losses at the company, which has received billions in aid. The "Deed for Lease" program will allow homeowners to transfer title to Fannie Mae and sign a one-year lease, with potential month-to-month extensions after that.

-Associated Press

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