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New rules proposed for IRS seizures

Nothing creates anger and frustration like having your property stolen. Whether you are robbed at gunpoint or thieves invaded your home, it is reasonable to believe that you would be fairly angry.

But what if the “thieves” happened to be the federal government, particularly the Internal Revenue Service? It is not uncommon for the IRS to seize property it believes are proceeds of illegal activity or proceeds from transactions structured to avoid Bank Secrecy Act requirements. A study published by the Institute for Justice found that between 2005 and 2012, the IRS seized $242 million in property due to suspicion of BSA violations.

Even worse, a third of such seizures were because of benign transactions of less than $10,000. 

Because of the prevalence of these seizures, the House of Representatives recently approved a measure that would revise the IRS’ power and authority to take taxpayers’ property. Among many changes, the IRS must conduct good faith efforts to locate the legal owners of such property and notify them of their rights to a post-seizure hearing. If a property owner requests a hearing within the 30 day time frame after being notified, the IRS must return the property pending a finding of probable cause that the property emanated from criminal activity or a violation of BSA requirements.

We noted in prior posts that business owners could be suspected of criminal activity because the breadth of some statutes could include otherwise legal transactions. If the IRS has seized your property due to such suspicion, an experienced criminal defense attorney can advise you. 

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