A store owner’s entire bank account was seized by the IRS, even though he was not charged with any crime and had recently passed an audit.


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Theft by government: A store owner’s entire bank account was seized by the IRS, even though he was not charged with any crime and had recently passed an audit.

The government falsely accused me of violating federal banking laws by making frequent cash deposits of less than $10,000. It is illegal to make deposits of less than $10,000 in cash if you are doing it to avoid regulations that require the banks to report larger deposits to the IRS. It’s not against the law, though, to make smaller deposits when there is a legitimate, legal business reason. That is exactly what I have been doing. My clerks routinely deposited cash earned at Schott’s at a bank right across the street. It’s never a good idea to risk letting too much money accumulate on-site. Like many other small businesses, my store’s insurance policy specifically limits coverage for cash losses to $10,000. The government would have learned that if it asked me, but it didn’t.

Just last year, we were audited by the IRS to make sure we complied with “anti-money-laundering” laws. The IRS gave us a clean bill of health. Our store has been making deposits this way for decades, and the IRS looked through our books during the audit. Yet no one said anything to me about violating any law. The IRS even sent me a letter about their audit saying, “No violations were identified.” Without any warning, officials just cleaned out my bank account.

Remarkably, the government doesn’t even have to charge me with any wrongdoing to keep my money. Many people know about criminal forfeiture, which allows police to seize the ill-gotten gains of convicted criminals. In my case, the government used civil forfeiture, which lets the government take money from people who have never been charged with any crime. Adding insult to injury, federal civil forfeiture law does not even grant me a hearing before or soon after they snatched my account. They’ve had my money for 10 months. I’ve been forced to spend thousands of dollars on lawyers just to get a hearing before a judge. Even more bizarre, under civil forfeiture, the government’s case is not against me, but against my property. This is why the official case has the ridiculous name, United States of America v. $35,651.11 in U.S. Currency. This is not just absurd; it’s unconstitutional.

Understand that the IRS could do this to anyone, without justifying their position in the slightest. And keep the money.

Posted on the road in New Mexico.

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