Today we would like to go a little deeper into the recent policy change and your rights regarding structuring transactions, both how current protections are not enough and what the IRS must now do to seize property.
We have already written a post about how the IRS is sending out letters to people who had money and property seized due to restructuring monetary transactions, but who are innocent of criminal activity. We detailed how the letters invite these taxpayers to apply for a refund and the necessity of acting immediately. If you fall into this category and have not yet acted, stop reading and call your tax attorney!
In the past, otherwise innocent people sometimes lost everything they had due to a technicality of often inadvertently structuring monetary transactions. One of the last acts of Attorney General Eric Holder before he left office was to issue the Attorney General Policy Memo last spring. Under this memo, the government could no longer seize funds if a taxpayer structures monetary transactions unless such funds were part of criminal activity.
Americans Need More Protection from Government Seizures
We are glad that innocent taxpayers now have some protection from their assets seized, but it is simply not enough that this protection rests completely on the whim of the Attorney General. When the holder of that office changes, they could quite easily change this policy. There has already been a change in the holder of the office since the memo regarding structuring transactions was released. With a presidential election just a few months away, we may soon have yet a new Attorney General. The Attorney General is actually a member of the President’s cabinet, though the only one who does not hold the title of secretary.
Protecting Americans’ money and property from the government must be part of our legal code, not just subject to the whims of today’s office holder. Absent criminal wrong-doing, Americans should never have to fear the government will seize their funds.
What the Government Must Do to Seize Your Money and Property for Structuring Transactions
The IRS cannot decide all on its own to seize your property for a structuring transgression.Warrants to seize funds are reviewed by an Assistant United States Attorney. If they think the seizure is warranted, it must then be approved by a federal judge but only following a finding of probable cause.
The person whose property is seized does then have remedies. They can file for an administrative procedure, but then the IRS is in charge. It is generally better to file a claim that will be adjudicated by the court system. When a claim is filed, the matter goes to the United States Attorney’s Office, which must file a complaint for forfeiture in district court within 90 days of the filing of a claim.
Though it may be possible to get your money back, or some of it, it’s not easy or fast, and in the meantime you may find yourself without funds. This is why Americans need more solid protections legal protections against government seizures.