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Right Hooks

Civil Forfeiture Has Many Victims

Feb. 6, 2015

As the saying goes, better to ask forgiveness than permission. Only, in the case of the IRS, better to erroneously confiscate assets and still not seek forgiveness – because, hey, federal government. Last October, the agency used civil forfeiture to steal $33,000 from small business owner Carole Hinders, whose only “crime” was making small cash deposits. Thanks to the Institute for Justice, we now have a better idea just how many victims were wrongly accused under this scheme. Between 2005 and 2012, the IRS took $242 million from over 2,500 bank accounts. According to The Washington Free Beacon, “[A]t least a third of the IRS’ asset forfeiture cases … were, like Hinders’, based solely a series of cash transactions under $10,000, with no other criminal activity alleged.” Scott Bullock is an attorney with the Institute for Justice, who noted, “The IRS’s forfeiture activity exposes the rotten core of federal civil forfeiture law. Allowing law enforcement to take property from people without convicting them of a crime and then profit from the seizure will inevitably lead to abuse.” Indeed, it already has, and it will only worsen if attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch gets her way. She recently lauded the practice as “a wonderful tool.” For many Americans, however, it’s injustice at its worst. More…

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