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.