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Seize First, Question Later: The IRS and Civil Forfeiture

February 2, 2015
By Dick M. Carpenter II and Larry Salzman

This study—conducted by Institute for Justice (IJ) researcher Dick M. Carpenter II and IJ attorney Larry Salzman —examines the use and abuse of civil asset forfeiture laws by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

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This study—conducted by Institute for Justice (IJ) researcher Dick M. Carpenter II and IJ attorney Larry Salzman —examines the use and abuse of civil asset forfeiture laws by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). According to Carpenter and Salzman, “federal civil forfeiture laws give the Internal Revenue Service the power to clean out bank accounts without charging their owners with any crime.”

Over the past decade, the IRS has pursued citizens on suspicion of evading bank reporting laws, a practice called “structuring.” However, the authors write, “at least a third of the IRS’s structuring-related seizures arose out of nothing more than a series of transactions under $10,000, with no other criminal activity, such as fraud, money laundering or smuggling, alleged by the government.”