I have continuously written about the deplorable practice of asset forfeiture via the IRS. Many of the cases involve circumstances where the business is accused of “structuring” cash deposits to stay under $10,000 — which the IRS considers to be “suspicious,” not unlike drug money laundering. In such instances, the IRS can swoop in and seize the business bank accounts of the “offenders” while simultaneously NOT charge them with any crime.
This latest case regarding a business called Mii’s Bridal and Tuxedo involves an alleged IRS tax debt that had been in dispute between the business and the IRS. Just like in previous cases, the owners had not been charged with anything. In this instance, however, instead of raiding a bank account, the IRS seized the store’s inventory and liquidated its entire contents within four hours — while violating numerous IRS practices and federal laws along the way. In the end, another American business and the livelihood of its owners was destroyed.
According to the Dallas News, “Mii’s, a small Garland business owned by an elderly immigrant couple from Thailand, was never accused in court of violating any federal laws.” Within hours of IRS agents arriving in March 2015, “Mii’s Bridal & Tuxedo was out of business after serving customers for decades. Its entire inventory of wedding gowns and dresses as well as sewing machines and other equipment were sold at auction. The hastily-called sale held inside the store netted the IRS about $17,000 — not enough to cover the roughly $31,400 in tax debt alleged, court records show. The balance is now likely unrecoverable.”
Violations by the IRS agents include:
-“The lead agent brought four children to join the armed agents and tag along during the entire process. The children sat on a pallet with several boxes of pepperoni pizza while watching events unfold.
-The Dallas police assisted in the raid, and an off-duty Dallas Police officer in plain clothes bid on and purchased an auction item.
-Agents seized items they shouldn’t have, such as a Vietnam veteran’s hat left at Mii’s to have badges of honor sewed into it. The IRS refused to return the hat.
-The agents also seized video game consoles, a surround-sound music system and a 65-inch TV, which was not authorized by the judge’s order.”
What’s more, “When the agents arrived for the seizure, they told the Thangsongcharoens to give them a $10,000 check within two hours to avoid the sale of their roughly 1,600 “designer” gowns, worth more than $615,000. Regarding the speed of the sale, the government said in legal filings that the IRS used a special law that allows for a streamlined procedure if the agency determines the goods seized could “perish or waste” or become greatly reduced in value.
As a result, the IRS didn’t have to post advance public notice of the Mii’s sale or wait at least ten days before selling the goods, as is normally required. The provision also says a speedy auction can be used if storing the property would cost the IRS ‘great expense.'”
In response, the shop owners are suing in federal court, arguing “that the agents deliberately marked down the inventory to about $6,000 so they could claim it would cost more to store than it was worth. That comes to less than $4 per dress.” This allowed them to justify and proceed with the liquidation that destroyed their business, and forms a basis of their $1.8 million lawsuit.
That case has yet to be resolved. It doesn’t make up for the fact that everything hard-working couple had built over the last 30 years had been destroyed in one afternoon, when no crime had ever been committed. This is just one of a long list of citizen abuses that have happened under the egregious asset forfeiture laws that pervade the IRS and rob Americans of their civil liberties and their livelihoods, often with little to no recourse.
Something that Congress needs to seriously consider is eliminating the authorization of federal agencies to designate violations of their rules as actual crimes.
Unbeknownst to the vast majority of Americans, federal agencies – consisting of no elected representatives at all – have the right to create criminal statutes. There are numerous, egregious instances that have come about where people were convicted of crimes made by agencies that no one knew -or even should have known – was a crime in the first place. This needs to end!
For example, in 2007, Lawrence Lewis, pleaded guilty of unknowingly violating the Clean Water Act. His crime? He and his crew followed policy and diverted overflowing waters – which threatened to flood the health care building he was servicing- into the street. Though the drain was connected to the city’s system, it actually emptied into a creek that flowed into the Potomac River. He had to pay a fine and submit himself to unannounced probation checks at home and at his subsequent job.
Likewise, in 2009, Eddie Leroy Anderson and his son dug for arrowheads for his collection while camping. Because it turned out that they were on federal land, that action violated the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 which they didn’t even know existed. They eventually pleaded guilty to avoid jail time and paid a $1500 fine — and never even found any arrowheads that day.
Then there the case of Robert Kern, a Virginian who was hunting moose in Russia. His hunting group shot animals from a helicopter, which is illegal in Russia; therefore, he was charged with violating the U.S. 2008 Lacey Act, a statute that makes it a felony to import fish or wildlife if it breaks another country’s laws.” The only way he was actually acquitted was due to a Russian official intervening and testifying at his trial that his group had a legal exemption — so he should never have been charged in the first place! What’s more, he was still on the hook for $860,000 in legal bills for something he didn’t even do!
The list could go on and on, because it’s impossible to quantify the number of agency statues. According to the Wall Street Journal (“As Criminal Laws Proliferate, More Are Ensnared, July 23, 2001), there were “an estimated 4,500 crimes in federal statutes, according to a 2008 study by retired Louisiana State University law professor John Baker.There are also thousands of regulations that carry criminal penalties. Some laws are so complex, scholars debate whether they represent one offense, or scores of offenses.
Counting them is impossible. The Justice Department spent two years trying in the 1980s, but produced only an estimate: 3,000 federal criminal offenses. The American Bar Association tried in the late 1990s, but concluded only that the number was likely much higher than 3,000. The ABA’s report said “the amount of individual citizen behavior now potentially subject to federal criminal control has increased in astonishing proportions in the last few decades.” Likewise, a Justice spokeswoman said there was no quantifiable number. Criminal statutes are sprinkled throughout some 27,000 pages of the federal code.”
No one ever intended for federal agencies to have the right to make up their own crimes — never mind the staggering number we have today. We need to remove authorization to create and approve crimes that ensnare good law-abiding citizens and turn them into felons over obscure matters.
Entitlement reform is necessary for the fiscal health of this country, but it is something that no one wants to talk about, much less tackle. How can we begin? How can we open up the conversation and the possibility to reform and improve our social security system?
One step in the right direction would be to treat Social Security as a true retirement plan, and not as a wealth transfer system that it currently is. This could begin with reclassifying the payroll tax. The majority (6.2% out of 7.65%) of the payroll tax covers Social Security retirement benefits. If we actually used it (or at least most of it) for that individual’s social security retirement, everyone’s perception would change. Instead of being viewed as a hated tax (just ask any young person who has received their first paycheck), it would be viewed as a desirable saving for their future!
A move in this direction could be helped by a characteristic of the present structure. The employer and employee contribute equally to the Social Security Tax. If the individual’s part went towards his personal retirement, the other part could go towards defraying the past obligations that are coming due. If we had done such a thing 20 years ago, the entire system would have been fixed. . Unfortunately, the present situation would probably require some portion of the individual’s portion to also go towards paying the ever growing obligation for past unfunded promises. It’s that dire! And it gets worse every year.
Let’s stop treating Social Security like welfare or wealth transfers and start treating it like a retirement system. It’s our money anyway, even though the government wants to act like it is being generous when it gives us back our money. This would lessen the loose-and-fast accounting gimmicks that contribute to the fiscal mismanagement of Social Security anyway — and may move it away from its impending insolvency.
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. —
Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.
He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.
He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
- For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
- For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:
- For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:
- For imposing taxes on us without our consent:
- For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:
- For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:
- For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:
- For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:
- For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In Jefferson’s draft there is a part on slavery here
In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.
We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.
JOHN HANCOCK, President
Attested, CHARLES THOMSON, Secretary
- New Hampshire
- JOSIAH BARTLETT
- SAMUEL ADAMS
ROBERT TREAT PAINE
- Rhode Island
- STEPHEN HOPKINS
- ROGER SHERMAN
- BUTTON GWINNETT
- SAMUEL CHASE
CHARLES CARROLL OF CARROLLTON
- GEORGE WYTHE
RICHARD HENRY LEE
THOMAS NELSON, JR.
FRANCIS LIGHTFOOT LEE
- New York
- WILLIAM FLOYD
- ROBERT MORRIS
- CAESAR RODNEY
- North Carolina
- WILLIAM HOOPER
- South Carolina
- EDWARD RUTLEDGE
THOMAS HEYWARD, JR.
THOMAS LYNCH, JR.
- New Jersey
- RICHARD STOCKTON