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IRS Tax Refunds Not in ‘Mishandled’ Mail

Times Staff Writer

Taxpayers swamped Internal Revenue Service switchboards Friday, concerned about the case of a former IRS clerk under federal investigation for “mishandling” about 40 bags of mail addressed to a Santa Ana IRS office.

IRS officials said most of the callers wanted to know if their refund checks or tax payments had been delayed because of the case.

An IRS spokeswoman said none of the mail included taxpayers’ returns or refund checks, and most of it was actually IRS correspondence that had been “returned to sender” as undeliverable.

“We just want to make sure that the public knows that no 1984 tax returns were involved,” said Nancy Dixon, public affairs director of the regional IRS office in Laguna Niguel. “Most of the mail that was in the particular bags was just our mail being returned to us as undeliverable.”

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The employee, a mail clerk whose name was not released, did not horde in his home what were estimated to be thousands of letters, Dixon said. She would not disclose where the mail was found but said IRS officials discovered the alleged mail tampering shortly before April 19.

Clerk Not Charged

Since then, Dixon said, the U.S. attorney’s office has been investigating. The mail clerk has not been arrested or charged.

Neither IRS nor U.S. attorney’s office officials would comment Friday on how the mishandling was discovered or where the mail was found.

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In California, tax returns are processed in Fresno. Auditing and walk-in tax counseling are handled out of several branch offices throughout the state. In Orange County, they are in Santa Ana and Laguna Niguel.

Handles IRS Mail

A second Santa Ana office, “strictly a correspondence office . . . that doesn’t deal with the public,” is where the clerk worked, Dixon said. The office handles some IRS mail from Orange, San Diego, Riverside, Imperial, San Bernardino counties and parts of Los Angeles County.

“Anything involving the mail gets a lot of attention,” Dixon said. “But this (incident) would not affect that type of mail like (income tax) returns. We don’t handle it here.”

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Dixon said she did not know if the clerk was fired or quit the IRS or when he stopped working for the agency.

“Why someone would want to take returned mail is beyond me,” Dixon said. “There wasn’t any money.”


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