In a recent article, I wrote about the highly controversial Civil Asset Forfeiture program, which allows the IRS to monitor and seize the assets of small businesses and individuals without ever having to prove they were in any way involved in criminal activity. Initially originated as a way to target alleged terrorists and tax evaders, the IRS decided to target anyone who makes a series of small deposits in a relatively short period of time that adds up to $10,000 or more.All financial institutions in the U.S. are required by law to fill out forms and submit them to the IRS alerting them to this type of activity. Once the assets are seized, it is up to the account holder to prove their innocence. Even when they do prove they are innocent of any wrong doing, the IRS does not return the seized assets.However, in a recent case, as reported in Accounting Today, “Federal prosecutors have agreed to return nearly $447,000 to a small business whose assets had been seized by the Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department agents as part of the controversial civil forfeiture program.” (www.accountingtoday.com/news/legal-watch/prosecutors-return-447000-in-irs-civil-asset-forfeiture-case-73379
)This landmark action is good news for anyone who has ever been or will be the target of the civil forfeiture program. The case has sparked political action. According to the Accounting Today article, “ Two high-ranking members on the House Ways and Means Committee, former chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and ranking member Sander Levin, D-Mich., recently filed bipartisan legislation to curb civil forfeiture abuses similar to the Hirsches’ case (see Congressmen Introduce Bill to Curb IRS Civil Asset Forfeitures
). Civil forfeiture has also become an issue in the confirmation of the nominee for U.S. Attorney General.”If you have been an innocent target of the IRS Civil Asset Forfeiture Program, get help from the most experienced tax attorney you can find. The precedent has been set. All is not lost.