By Dolores Kong
The Boston Globe

More taxpayers are claiming their checks to the IRS
were in the mail by mid-April, but the federal
government has not deposited them.

The Internal Revenue Service confirmed this week that
about 1,800 tax payments from residents of New England
and upstate New York that were mailed to an IRS post
office box in Pittsburgh have vanished. That number
represents taxpayers who have called the IRS about
checks that haven't cleared yet.

However, dozens of people contacted the Globe
yesterday in response to a story about the missing
taxpayer checks, saying they believe their own checks
are among those that have disappeared. Some said they
had already contacted the IRS about the problem.

Judging by some of the taxpayers who came forward
yesterday, that 1,800 number may be about to increase.

When Michael Cahill first read about the missing
checks, he immediately called the IRS and confirmed
that the one he sent in April had not been received.
He stopped payment on it and then drove in from the
South Shore yesterday to hand over a replacement check
to the IRS in Boston.

"They took my check and made a copy of my records.
They couldn't have been more polite," said Cahill, who
handed over the replacement check at the IRS office in
the JFK federal building.

"Paying your taxes is a serious matter," he said. "It
doesn't matter whose fault it is. You want to resolve
the matter as quickly as possible."

What happened to the missing checks is unclear.

IRS spokeswoman Peggy Riley stuck by the 1,800 total
yesterday and declined to speculate on how the checks
might have disappeared, citing an ongoing

But some taxpayers say they believe the problem is

"I have a feeling it's more widespread," said David
Green. The 74- year-old Chestnut Hill resident called
the Globe last week about a four-figure check he sent
as an estimated tax payment to the IRS by the filing
deadline, but which never cleared. He stopped payment
on that check and sent a replacement, along with
supporting documentation.

Yesterday, his son Bruce decided to review his
brokerage statements to see if the eight different
tax-payment checks he wrote out of that account had
cleared. "Out of eight checks, only four cleared,"
said David Green, who added that his son then called
the IRS.
"My son and I are both involved. It's got to be a
bigger problem than they're admitting," he said.

The problem centers on checks sent near the filing
deadline to the IRS post office box in Pittsburgh,
along with certain 1040s (not 1040A or 1040EZ forms),
estimated tax payment forms, and tax-filing extension
forms, according to the IRS. Taxpayers who used a paid
preparer are instructed to send their payment with a
1040-V form to the Pittsburgh address, while those who
prepared their own taxes and used the 1040-V form are
instructed to send checks to Andover, according to the
IRS's Riley.

The IRS would not speculate on how the checks may have
disappeared, but interviews with taxpayers and tax
preparers hint at one possible scenario. Some tax
payments sent by certified mail, with a return receipt
requested, suggest the payments were received at
Mellon Bank's lockbox facility in Pittsburgh and the
tax forms forwarded to Andover - yet the checks were
never deposited.

If checks sent by the April filing deadline haven't
cleared yet, taxpayers should call the IRS at
800-829-1040 and have available their Social Security
number, the date the returns and payments were sent,
and the check number and amount. The IRS will then
review its records to make sure payment hasn't been
posted, and contact the taxpayer with further

Some taxpayers have been told by IRS officials
answering the 800 number to stop checks and send
replacement checks with supporting documentation to
the same Pittsburgh post office address. But Riley
said taxpayers should wait for a letter from the
agency with further instructions, including a special
address in Andover that has been set up to take the
replacement checks, so that they won't be charged any
interest and penalties.