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Last night the House of Representatives voted and approved of the RESPECT Act. Earlier this year Rep. Roskam (R-IL) and Rep. Crowley (D-NY) introduced a bill to end unconstitutional civil asset forfeiture; it was approved by the Ways and Means Committee in July.

H.R.1843, or, the Restraining Excessive Seizure of Property through the Exploitation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Tools Act, has now passed into law. It was written to combat a very specific and shockingly serious problem. Many Americans who have run primarily cash businesses have had their bank accounts come under siege, but not by hackers, but by the Internal Revenue Service.

Last year the public started paying attention when a few individual cases of monetary confiscation without legal grounds were picked up by major news outlets. The amounts taken vary as much as the the victims. The similar factor in each case however is that they were robbed without ever being accused of any crime. In fact, the rationale of the IRS is that money they take possession of is being handled in a way that is actually explicitly not illegal.

If you ever deposit over $10,000 in a bank, the IRS is notified so they can investigate whether such a large movement of money was in any way illicit. This power alone might be enough to make a classical liberal’s skin crawl. Shouldn’t anyone be able to do with their money as they please? But in recent years, it has also been risky to move funds in amounts less than $10,000. If the IRS suspected you were trying to avoid their gaze they were given the power, under law, to confiscate your property without even charging you with a crime.

Targets included: a Mexican restaurant owner for $33,000, a dairy farm owner for over $60,000, a convenience store supplier for $400,000, and many more.

Using this method, the IRS has collected $242,000,000 between 2005 and 2012 alone, according to one study.

These laws unfairly targeted those with few means to defend themselves purely for the sake of fundraising. This is a remarkable step in the right direction for the House to pass the RESPECT Act limiting this tyranny.

 


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