DEAR HARRY: Back in 1999, I was trapped by the IRS for failing to pay Social Security taxes. Since then, I make regular payments as well as forfeit my tax refunds. I have not received a statement from the IRS for more than a year, and I think I am now in a position to repay the balance due in full. I have called and written to them and gotten nowhere. I stopped making payments since November to try to jog someone over there, but nothing happens. I don't know if they're all asleep or even if I'm paid off. I don't want to try the political route you sometimes suggest, because my congressman singled me out at a meeting for some verbal abuse. Is there some other way?

WHAT HARRY SAYS: Most of coursely. Problems such as yours (and some worse) caused the government to establish a program in which someone could cut the red tape and foul-ups made at the IRS. It has turned out to be a successful program. We now have the Taxpayer Advocate Service, which does a good job at keeping the IRS on the ball. Call 1-877-777-4778. I wouldn't be surprised if you got things squared in the next week or two. I wish every government agency had some kind of ombudsman.

Email Harry Gross at, or write to him at Daily News, 801 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19107. Harry urges all his readers to give blood. Contact the American Red Cross at 800-Red Cross.