Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

IRS Allows Kidnappers to Take Dependent Deduction for Victims

IRS Logo Washington Examiner, Start at the IRS to Find a Missing Child:

The IRS may very well know where your missing child is, but the agency won't tell you.
Believe it or not, there are some parental abductors who file tax returns and blatantly claim their kidnapped child as a dependent!
Some of them apparently need the refund money, while others don't want to attract attention for failure to pay. When they file their return, they list their employer and their home address, along with the child's name and Social Security number.

All are major pieces of information the abandoned parent would love to know. But the IRS cloaks itself in Watergate-era privacy laws, shrugs its bureaucratic shoulders and says it just can't help the grieving parent locate the missing child. ...

Some courageous lawmaker in Washington needs to grab hold of this issue and craft legislation that allows the IRS to lift its ironclad curtain of secrecy when court orders are being ignored and the safety of a child is at stake.

 I'm certain custodial parents would be fine with the IRS handing over confidential information about their child's whereabouts -- not to them, but to a family court judge. That judge could then be directed to issue an instruction to law enforcement to work with counterparts in other jurisdictions to retrieve the child and take the kidnapper into custody. ...

Cindy Rudometkin of the Polly Klass Foundation was recently quoted saying she believes there are hundreds of cases that could be resolved if only the IRS would give up what it knows. "And even if it helped solve (just) one case," she said, "imagine if that child returned home was yours."

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Note the irony of the IRS refusal to provide the locations of kidnapped children in light of this notice within its tax form instructions:

"The Internal Revenue Service is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Photographs of missing children selected by the Center may appear in instructions on pages that otherwise would be blank. You can help bring these children home be found by looking at the photographs and calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-568) if you recognize a child."

Posted by: Woody | Apr 19, 2011 10:51:50 AM

Here's the question though -- if the IRS starts providing this info, while it may be good in the short-run...would the kidnappers just stop filing tax returns?

Of course you can think about it with emotions and appeal to anti-IRS sentiments, but at the core, it's a cost-benefit question.

Posted by: Milton | Apr 19, 2011 5:29:33 PM

You are kidding, right? Do the kidnappers grab the kid's social security numbers on their way out the door? As a kid, I never saw mine until I applied for my first non-under-the-table job in high school. Even then, I think I had to look at the card. In the case of a spousal abduction, isn't that usually known when that is the case and might people be looking for the spouse anyway?

Posted by: Virginia | Apr 20, 2011 6:03:04 PM

Many abductors are the non-custodial parent, thus having knowledge of the SSN.

This "Woe is me" story once again blames the IRS, and not Congress, for the reason that the IRS cannot disclose the information. By law, enacted by Congress, the IRS is not permitted to turnover/make public most taxpayer information (IRC section 6103). I also believe that Congress enacted a law that violation of this provision resulted in automatic termination of the IRS employee who disclosed the information (this may have been lighten in recent years). The IRS employee also owes a penalty/fine for each disclosure.

So it is Congress, not the IRS, that is the problem. Much as it might like (which I have no idea whether it would or would not like) the IRS cannot disclose the info. Congress mush (and in my opinion should) change the law. But until Congress passes a law allowing the IRS to do this, the IRS can't.

So call your Congresspeople and B & M to them rather than blame it on the IRS

Posted by: tax guy | Apr 21, 2011 12:50:53 PM