Because of privacy laws, the Internal Revenue Service won’t give law enforcement information that could lead to apprehending child abductors, says the New York Times. The laws, enacted in the 1970s to prevent Watergate-era abuses of confidential taxpayer information, have exceptions allowing the IRS to turn over information in child support cases and to help federal agencies determine whether an applicant qualifies for income-based federal benefits.
Guidelines on handling of criminal cases pose obstacles for parents and investigators pursuing a child abductor – even when the taxpayer in question is a fugitive and the subject of a felony warrant. “It's one of those areas where you would hope that common sense would prevail,” said Ernie Allen of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “We are talking about people who are fugitives, who have criminal warrants against them. And children who are at risk.” About 200,000 family abductions are reported each year in the U.S., most stemming from custody disputes between estranged spouses. About 12,000 last longer than six months and involve parental abductors who assume false identities and travel to escape detection.