WASHINGTON -- The amount of tax-exempt interest reported by individual taxpayers in 1989 surged 18.4% or $6 billion, to #38.8 billion, according to a report to be released Friday by the Internal Revenue Service.

The figures confirm what many in the municipal market have known for some time -- that individual investors are buying more tax-exempt bonds and taking p the slack left by the departure of commercial banks from the market, industry officials said yesterday.

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