Missing child found thanks to her picture on IRS form

By: The Associated Press April 10, 2004

AP photo Taking a clue from milk cartons, the IRS has been including
pictures of missing children in its packages of the 2003 tax form.

The reunification marks the first time the IRS can say with certainty
that a photograph in a tax publication led the National Center for
Missing and Exploited Children to a missing child.

WASHINGTON – Missing kids aren’t pictured only on the back of milk
cartons. A taxpayer found a missing child this spring after seeing her
picture in an Internal Revenue Service tax instruction booklet.

The anonymous taxpayer helped authorities locate Michelle Branch, missing
seven years from her home in Fremont, Calif., on March 16.

”She really didn’t know anybody was even looking for her,” said D’Ann
Taflin, spokeswoman for the National Center for Missing and Exploited
Children.
Branch, who described herself to Taflin as a ”wild kid,” went missing
at age 17. She’s now 24 years old and living in Detroit.

Her family plans to send her a plane ticket so she can fly to California
and visit them in May.

The reunification marks the first time the IRS can say with certainty
that a photograph in a tax publication led the National Center for
Missing and Exploited Children to a missing child.

The center distributes photographs to more than 300 partners. The IRS
started publishing them in their highly visible and widely used tax
publications in 1999. About 1,300 pictures have appeared in IRS
publications, and 200 of those children have been found.

”One in six missing children is found as a direct result of someone
recognizing that child’s photo, and we count ourselves extremely
fortunate to have the IRS as a powerful partner,” said Ernie Allen,
president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

In addition to distributing photographs, the center trains law
enforcement and social service workers, offers child protection training
and helps the State Department solve cases of international child
abduction.

It has helped authorities locate more than 80,000 children since 1984.

©The Macomb Daily 2004

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