WASHINGTON -- The Internal Revenue Service has cleared up the confusion over which population figures the states should use in computing their 1991 private-activity bond volume caps by ruling that they must revert back to their 1990 cap levels.

But going back to last year's figures wipes out tens of millions of dollars in bond authority under the 1991 volume cap, which for each state is $50 per capita or $150 million, whichever is larger. It means 16 states will have to cut back on their current-year cap allotment, while 12 others will see their 1991 cap increase slightly.

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