An editorial from

Scripps Howard News ServiceAccording to an in-house review by the Internal Revenue Service, that agency loses about 2 million tax returns or related documents every year. The unreliabilty of its storage system for individual tax records often frustrates its efforts to check questionable refunds.

"To be quite honest," said one employee, "I generally request a copy of the individual's state tax return before I request a copy from the (federal) service center. Their service (the states' tax offices) is generally faster and I'm very likely to get the information."

Another staffer said that he sometimes has to request copies of back returns from taxpayers because the forms cannot be found in the agency's own files - and that he and his colleagues find such situations "very embarrassing." They should.