The Internal Revenue Service, still embroiled in controversy over the inappropriate targeting of conservative groups under the leadership of Lois Lerner, is abusing agency rules that allow for the confiscation of bank accounts without evidence of a crime, taking the concept of "guilty until proven innocent" to a whole new extreme by failing to distinguish lawful small business owners from money launderers and illegal drug operations.
According to a report published in the New York Times, the IRS has been confiscating private funds belonging to small business owners based on "suspicions," not evidence of a crime.
For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. For just as long, she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account, almost $33,000.
The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes — in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report.
“How can this happen?” Ms. Hinders said in a recent interview. “Who takes your money before they prove that you’ve done anything wrong with it?”
The federal government does.
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. Many give up.
Many give up. The majority of people targeted by the IRS unfairly give up, which is exactly why this abuse of power and government overreach is unacceptable. It is impossible to fight back against the most powerful agency that exists within the federal government. With one confiscation, the IRS destroys the lives of productive, law abiding, middle-class American citizens. The worst part? The IRS has made this a habit. More on this from Jazz Shaw:
According to their records, Ms. Hinders has still yet to be charged with any crime, but has gone into debt while attempting to get the money returned. And she’s not the only one they turned up. The IRS used this tactic 639 in 2012 alone, with only 20% of those cases ever being prosecuted.
Another interesting item of note show up here. When such funds are seized, law enforcement agencies get to keep a share of whatever is forfeited. If that doesn’t set off some red flags for you, nothing will.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz has repeatedly called for the elimination of the IRS. The revelations and stories of IRS abuse in this manner are just the latest examples of why he is absolutely correct.