WASHINGTON -- A record number of investors are holding tax-exempt bonds, the Public Securities Association said yesterday after analyzing the income tax figures released last month by the Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS' preliminary data from tax returns fried for 1992, the latest year for which income tax figures are available, showed that the number of taxpayers reporting tax-exempt interest rose to almost 4.5 million, a jump of about 8.8% from the previous year.

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