The Internal Revenue Service is making changes in its letter-forwarding program and no longer intends to try to locate a missing taxpayer who may be entitled to a retirement plan payment or other financial benefit.

The IRS instead expects companies and individuals to use missing person locator services, such as those available over the Internet, to find the missing taxpayers.

In Revenue Procedure 2012-25, the IRS revised prior rules governing its letter-forwarding program. The program is available to private individuals, as well as state and federal agencies, who are attempting to locate missing individuals. Under Policy Statement P-1-187, the IRS established a program whereby it would forward a letter to a missing individual on behalf of a private individual or government agency if this action is for a humane purpose and there is no other way to relay the information to the individual.

Revenue Procedure 94-22 allowed an individual, company, or organization that controls assets that may be due a taxpayer, including plan administrators, sponsors of qualified retirement plans, or qualified termination administrators of abandoned plans under the Department of Labor’s Abandoned Plan Program attempting to locate missing plan participants, to make a written request to the IRS to use its letter forwarding program. 

However, under current budget constraints, the IRS has decided to get out of the business of providing free detective services. “Since the release of this revenue procedure in 1994, several alternative missing person locator resources, including the Internet, have become available,” it said. “Accordingly, the Service will no longer consider locating a missing taxpayer who may be entitled to a retirement plan payment or other financial benefit from an individual, company or organization to be a humane purpose for which the Service will provide letter-forwarding services."

Under the new revenue procedure, the IRS said it will no longer provide letter-forwarding services to locate a taxpayer that may be owed assets from an individual, company, or organization.  The letter-forwarding program is now limited to situations in which a person is trying to locate a taxpayer to convey a message for a humane purpose as defined in Section 4 or in an emergency situation.

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