A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced a bill that would allow the Internal Revenue Service to share confidential taxpayer information with law enforcement to help track down missing children.

The bipartisan bill, known as the Recovering Missing Children Act, was introduced by Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., along with Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., Joe Courtney, D-Conn., and Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio.

“Information that could help bring an abducted child home is sitting right under our noses, yet we don’t empower law enforcement to use it,” said Stark. “We need a system that grants access to the authorities working on a particular abduction case while also respecting and protecting tax filers’ privacy. The Recovering Missing Children Act strikes that important balance.” 

The bill would amend the Tax Code, adding the case of a missing child to the current list of exceptions that allow the release of IRS tax return information. To ensure that taxpayers’ rights to privacy are protected, the legislation requires a federal court order for information from tax forms to be released. The release of such information would be limited to federal, state and local law enforcement agents who are personally and directly involved in the investigation of a missing child..

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., introduced similar legislation in the Senate in January, co-sponsored by John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. (see Senate Bill Would Prod IRS to Share Missing Children Info). Klobuchar spoke out in support of the legislation on Wednesday, which was National Missing Children’s Day, along with advocates for the National Center for Missing and Abducted Children and a parent who has experienced the abduction of a child. The National Sheriffs Association has also endorsed the legislation, along with the Association of Missing and Exploited Children’s Organizations.

“As a former prosecutor, I know that one of law enforcement's highest priorities is working to recover missing children,” said Klobuchar. “This is a commonsense way to cut red tape and provide police and prosecutors access to critical information that would help bring missing children home."

In March, Klobuchar chaired a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing examining ways to help law enforcement in their search for missing children. At the hearing, Klobuchar renewed her call to pass her legislation, the Access to Information about Missing Children Act, which would help federal, state and local law enforcement locate missing children whose whereabouts could be discovered through basic information on federal tax returns.

“As a parent who experienced a years-long nightmare trying to track down my children who had been abducted by their father, I can tell you that the Recovering Missing Children Act is needed,” said Mika Moulton. “This piece of legislation is not only important for helping law enforcement recover missing kids, it is critical for the wellbeing of our nation’s children.”

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