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House passes bill to curb IRS asset seizures

IRS agents, as well as federal and state criminal task forces across the country, have routinely defended the confiscation of assets from individuals and families under asset forfeiture laws. The oft-advanced argument touting program policies and results is that law enforcers are merely going after bad guys, that is, depriving law breakers of the spoils derived from ill-gotten gains.

That principally means things like caches of cash hauled in through cartel-organized drug trafficking. Authorities have also seized automobiles, personal items of myriad variety, and even homes, when such possessions are alleged to have been purchased through profits linked with unlawful activity.

As to the scope of government takings pursuant to asset forfeiture, well, it is flatly awesome.

Consider this: An Institute of Justice-authored study posits that the IRS alone acted more than 2,500 times between 2005 and 2012 in forfeiture-related seizures, seizing more than $240 million from Americans who agents say profited illegally.

There is a problem with that, which has been widely confirmed over many years.

And that is this, as noted in a recent Accounting Today article: High numbers of documented incidents have occurred where individuals -- often business owners simply making routine deposits -- piqued the IRS' interest merely because their transactions were slightly less than $10,000.

That amount spells the trigger point for reporting requirements under the federal Bank Secrecy Act. In many instances, the agency has cited a belief that the sub-$10,000 deposits were made with intent to evade the law and hide unlawful conduct.

That has often not turned out to be the case, though, with scores of stories revealing forfeitures of cash and other assets from Americans who were not acting in any illegal manner.

Congress has noted the excesses related to money and property seizures, and acted last week to curb IRS powers under the forfeiture program via a House bill that calls for tighter oversight and expanded citizens' rights.

Asset forfeiture has been roundly criticized over many years by a broad band of critics. Notably, the House legislation was a bipartisan effort, with the bill being unanimously approved.

Questions or concerns regarding any aspect of a government asset seizure can be directed to an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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