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Govt. report reveals troubling IRS behavior re asset forfeiture

Seize assets first, ask questions later -- and don't return the money you improperly took from innocent business owners.

Oh, and make threats of criminal prosecution to ensure cooperation as you're draining the bank accounts of individual who have not engaged in any criminal conduct.

Perhaps many of our readers across Arkansas have never heard of the federal Bank Secrecy Act or the power -- seemingly unbridled for a long period -- of the Criminal Investigation division of the IRS acting under it to summarily take money and other assets from business owners targeted as criminal wrongdoers.

Then again, it is unquestionable that some state residents know a good deal about CI and the tactics it has long employed to drain the wealth of thousands of businesses. Select individuals in Arkansas and all across the country have been personally targeted by IRS criminal agents alleging that funds and other property -- sometimes everything a business has -- must be surrendered (immediately and without recourse) to the government owing to their alleged linkage with unlawful activities, often drug trafficking and money laundering.

Many people might reasonably applaud any program that ferrets out wrongly gained riches and takes them back for taxpayers.

Even those who do, though, might take pause from this glaring finding that emerged from an official government report examining CI tactics and citizens' complaints regarding summary seizures: According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), an astounding 91 percent of the seizure cases it scrutinized "were of businesses and individuals whose funds were obtained legally."

That bears repeating. According to the government itself, CI agents acting pursuant to the dictates of the civil asset forfeiture program have been seizing assets from innocent people in nine of every 10 cases they are involved in.

We will have more to say on this matter in our next blog post.

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