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IRS program helps find missing taxpayers.

Where can one turn when an executor can't find an heir or when a pension plan administrator can't find a plan participant? The Internal Revenue Service's letter-forwarding program may be a place to start.

The IRS announced in revenue procedure 94-22 it would forward letters to missing persons if doing so served a "humane purpose." Letters from one family member seeking to reunite with another, from an organization that controls assets due a taxpayer or a pension plan administrator or sponsor attempting to locate a missing plan participant fall into this category. The program is open to individuals, companies and organizations as well as to state and federal agencies.

The IRS will not assist in tracing family trees, nor will it forward letters seeking reparation. It will not disclose to a requester any confidential tax information, such as an address, or even the fact that an address exists in its files.

Here's how the program works: A requester submits these items to the Disclosure Office at the IRS district office in which the requester resides:

* The letter to be forwarded.

* A written statement explaining the need for the mailing.

* The missing person's Social Security number. (If none is furnished, a request cannot be processed.)

The IRS then notifies the requester that it will attempt to deliver the letter if an address can be located in its files. If the recipient's address is known to the IRS, the letter will be forwarded in an IRS envelope. The recipient will be advised (1) the IRS is forwarding the letter in accordance with current policy, (2) the IRS has not divulged the recipient's address, any tax information or even the fact that the letter was forwarded, (3) the IRS has no involvement in the matter and (4) the decision of whether to respond is entirely up to the recipient. All undeliverable mail will be destroyed.

Observation: There normally is no charge for the letter-forwarding program unless a request involves 50 or more potential recipients. Currently, a flat fee of approximately $1,750 is charged for such requests (plus $.01 per address search and $.50 per letter forwarded). Bulk mailings must be sent to IRS, Director, Office of Disclosure, CP:EX:D-Room 1603, 1111 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20224. Large requests are processed in approximately 90 days.

--Michael Lynch, CPA, Esq., assistant professor of accounting at Bryant College, Smithfield, Rhode Island.
COPYRIGHT 1994 American Institute of CPA's
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Article Details
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Author:Lynch, Michael F.
Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Sep 1, 1994
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