The IRS is using a controversial policy known as civil forfeiture to seize huge piles of cash from Americans’ bank accounts even if they’ve never been convicted of a crime.
Carole Hinders, from Arnolds Park Iowa, has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant for the past 40 years.
For just as long she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away.
Then the unexpected happened. Last year two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account, almost $33,000.
What was her crime? None.
Just like most businesses, Carole Hinders deposited her legal earnings into her bank account. And like most Americans she isn’t a huge company.
So why the big deal? What did she do to make the IRS seize her life savings?
All you have to do to capture the IRS’ attention is make multiple large deposits that are less than $10,000 in your account.
It all relates to what the IRS calls “structuring,” when someone makes withdrawals or deposits strategically under the amount of $10,000 to avoid having their bank file a currency transaction report with the Feds.
Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes.
The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent.
According to CBS News, Law enforcement officers can confiscate property without charging anyone with a crime. $4.3 billion worth of assets were seized by police in 2012, more than 10 times the number in 2001.
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