Of the nearly 2,500 missing children whose pictures have appeared in the paper versions of tax forms over the past five years, 87 have been located thanks to leads generated by taxpayers, according to a recent report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.Since 2000, the Internal Revenue Service has partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to help locate missing children by publishing their pictures in printed instructions and publications as part of the IRS Picture Them Home Program.

From January 2001 through July 2006, the IRS publicized 2,493 pictures of missing children, resulting in the center receiving 587 leads, relating to 259 children.

The TIGTA report does suggest some enhancements for the program, including improving the process the IRS uses to publish the pictures of the missing children to include more pictures and making sure that the quarterly information the IRS provides to the center -- letting them know what children are appearing in what publications -- is accurate.

The report also makes the case for the value that IRS data could provide if it were used to help locate missing children, or alleged abductors. While the law does restrict the IRS from sharing taxpayer returns, and designates return information as confidential, exceptions can be made under court order for use of the info in criminal investigations.

According to a TIGTA analysis of missing children cases that contained Social Security numbers for missing children or alleged abductors, new addresses for 46 percent of 520 missing children, and 34 percent of 305 alleged abductors, were found.

The full report, “The Internal Revenue Service Provides Valuable Assistance in Locating
Missing Children,” is available at www.ustreas.gov/tigta/auditreports/2007reports/200740029fr.pdf.

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