IRS Requested to Return Small Business Money

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Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has received a letter demanding the return of money that was seized by the IRS under laws regarding asset forfeiture.

The letter contends the money was taken wrongfully, and the Treasure Secretary has the discretion and opportunity to return the funds to whom they belong. IRS commissioner John Koskinen and Attorney General Loretta Lynch also received copies of the letter.

The forfeiture laws have allowed the IRS to collect millions of dollars before obtaining proof of a crime. The agency has defended its actions, stating the accounts in question were structured in an illegal manner because deposits and withdrawals were in amounts less than $10,000, which are not subject to federal reporting by banks.

The reporting law was enacted in 1970 to discourage money laundering, drug transactions and other criminal actions. Structuring is a felony crime that can bring up to five years of prison time.

The IRS seized $242 million in structuring cases between 2005 and 2012. Only one third of those cases turned out to be criminal. Other forfeitures were tried as civil cases, making it very difficult for people to get their money returned. Only one in five structuring cases was criminal.

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