October 27, 2014
(TheAntiMedia) Over the weekend, the New York Times revealed that the Internal Revenue Service has been abusing a civil assets forfeiture law intended to target drug traffickers, racketeers, and terrorists. Instead of catching “evil-doers,” it more commonly uses these policies to confiscate money from innocent people without ever charging them with a crime.
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The I.R.S. justifies its confiscations through what it calls “structuring,” or depositing less than $10,000 at a time to avoid having to report income-this is illegal. Pursuant to the Bank Secrecy Act, deposits of over 10,000 dollars must be reported by banks to the government, but the government also requires that banks report deposits under $10,000 that seem “suspicious.”
Last year, banks filed over 700,000 reports, and often, a mere bank report is enough for the government to obtain a “seizure warrant.” Further, there are over 100 multi-agency task forces dedicated to poring over bank statements, looking for assets to steal.
David Smith, a forfeiture expert, lawyer, and former federal prosecutor, told the Times:
“They’re going after people who are really not criminals…They’re middle-class citizens who have never had any trouble with the law.”
While in 2005 there were 114 asset seizures, by 2012 there were 639. Only 1 in 5 have been charged with criminal structuring.
One Mexican restaurant owner, Carole Hinders, deposited profits from her cash-only business for years, only to learn that the I.R.S. confiscated the $33,000 she had saved. She had to borrow money, abuse her credit cards, and take out a second mortgage to maintain her business.
“How can this happen? Who takes your money before they prove that you’ve done anything wrong with it?”
In another case, a candy and cigarette distributor, run by the same family for 27 years, lost nearly half a million dollars and in other instances, Maryland dairy farmers have been targeted. One retired Army sergeant began depositing money into a bank account to save money for his daughters’ college education, but the government took $66,000 and one daughter had to delay school for a year.
It is often expensive and unsuccessful to challenge the government’s seizures. The median seize was $34,000, but legal costs can be around $20,000.
Following questioning by the New York Times, the Chief of Criminal Investigation at the I.R.S., Richard Weber, said the I.R.S. would curtail the practice of seizing money from people who had done nothing wrong:
“This policy update will ensure that C.I. continues to focus our limited investigative resources on identifying and investigating violations within our jurisdiction that closely align with C.I.’s mission and key priorities.”
Meanwhile, elites get away with whatever blatant crimes they want. HSBC was found guilty of laundering drug money, but the powerful banking cartel was required to pay a mere 1.9 billion dollar fine, about five weeks of profit. This is a theatrical slap on the wrist for an established banking cartel when working-class citizens, who struggle at the hands of banker greed, are stripped of their entire life savings for doing nothing wrong.
The I.R.S. is the agency that makes tax-payer funded war, militarization, and corporate dominance possible. This agency relentlessly proves its corruption. Stories like these damage its credibility and expose its entire fraudulent foundation. However, as long as government has guns and the threat of force backing up its theft, abuses like these will continue to crop up and Americans will perpetually bankroll their own oppression.
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