US lawmakers seek return of funds seized from dairy farm

AP News
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Posted: Aug 12, 2015 6:28 PM

A bipartisan group of U.S. representatives said Wednesday that they have asked the Treasury Department to return about $30,000 the IRS seized from a western Maryland dairy farm under a law aimed at curtailing money laundering.

Nine members of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on oversight announced the request on behalf of the South Mountain Creamery in Middletown, Maryland.

The government initially seized more than $60,000 from the farm's bank account in 2012, accusing owners Randy and Karen Sowers of violating banking laws by making cash deposits in amounts just under $10,000 to avoid paperwork required by the Bank Secrecy Act. The couple agreed to forfeit $29,500 but didn't admit wrongdoing. They said the money came from sales at farmers markets.

Sowers said in 2012 he felt pressured to settle the case.

Since then, the IRS has changed its policy to avoid seizing funds that didn't come from an illegal source.

The Treasury Department says it has received the letter and will respond to the subcommittee.

In testimony before the subcommittee in February, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen apologized to anyone who was not treated fairly under the anti-money laundering rules.

The subcommittee members also asked Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew in their letter to review other cases in which the IRS seized funds on the suspicion that account holders broke the law.