In April, Reason detailed a report from the watchdog group The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) that found the agency “seized more than $17 million from innocent business owners over a two-year period using obscure anti-money laundering rules and civil asset forfeiture.” From Reason:
The inspector general found money seized and forfeited by the IRS was legally obtained in 91 percent of a sample of 278 structuring investigations it reviewed occurring between fiscal years 2012 and 2014. Altogether, those funds totalled $17.1 million and involved 231 cases.
“That is just a shocking, shocking statistic,” says Robert Johnson, an attorney at the Institute for Justice. “It shows the cases we’ve been bringing are not isolated incidents by any stretch of the imagination. This is the bread and butter of what the IRS has been doing for years.”
The inspector general also found that, in 54 cases, property owners gave reasonable explanations for why their deposits did not exceed $10,000, but in most of those cases there was no evidence that IRS investigated their explanations.
In addition, the inspector general found evidence “that in at least 37 cases the Government bargained nonprosecution in order to resolve the civil forfeiture.” In other words, the IRS leveraged its civil forfeiture cases by threatening to file criminal charges.
A good start. Now we need legislation passed into law eliminating asset forfeiture by law enforcement. This country was not founded upon the legalized theft of property by police.