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Fri May 15, 2015, 12:12 PM

How the IRS seized a North Carolina businessmanís life savings without ever charging him

How the IRS seized a North Carolina businessmanís life savings without ever charging him with a crime

Wonkblog
By Christopher Ingraham May 15 at 9:59 AM
@cingraham

The United States of America, Plaintiff, v. $107,702.66 in United States Currency, Defendant. ... That's the Kafkaesque title of a civil asset forfeiture complaint filed in a U.S. District Court last December. The complaint, and the attendant peculiarity of the federal government filing suit against its own currency, illustrates the legal problems at the heart of the civil asset forfeiture system. As a DEA agent succinctly described it to the Albuquerque Journal: "We donít have to prove that the person is guilty. Itís that the money is presumed to be guilty."

Other asset forfeiture complaints read similarly:
United States of America, Plaintiff, vs. thirty-two thousand eight hundred twenty dollars and fifty-six cents ($32,820.56), Defendant.
United States of America, Plaintiff, vs. $124,700 in U.S. Currency, Defendant.

The Department of Justice defines it like this: in civil forfeiture cases, "the property is the defendant and no criminal charge against the owner is necessary." Money, of course, can't actually be guilty of anything. But local, state and law enforcement agents use the convenient construct of monetary guilt to seize people's property without convicting them of a crime -- or even charging them.

In seizing property, law enforcement agencies tend to prefer these civil forfeitures to criminal ones, because the standard of proof is considerably lower in civil cases. Some numbers that speak to that point: in 2014, U.S. attorneys seized $679 million in assets through criminal actions, and $3.9 billion through civil actions.

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Reply How the IRS seized a North Carolina businessmanís life savings without ever charging him (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves May 2015 OP
samsingh May 2015 #1
jeff47 May 2015 #2

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri May 15, 2015, 12:38 PM

1. start a religion like scientology and the irs just buckles under

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri May 15, 2015, 12:52 PM

2. Uh, that isn't the IRS.

Civil forfeiture laws are a "feature" of the war on drugs. Not tax laws. Every example you cite is from the Justice Department, not the Treasury Department (where the IRS resides).

In fact, in the situation in the article, it was the Justice department that seized his money. Not the IRS.

Remember back when news organizations gave a shit about accurate headlines?

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