Government Greed Goes Unpunished

From Sunday’s New York Times:

For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. For just as long, she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account, almost $33,000.

The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes — in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report.

The 4th Amendment requires probable cause for a search and seizure. The 14th Amendment forbids the government from depriving you of your property without due process. What was the probable cause that triggered the seizure of Ms. Hinders’ money? How does keeping the money of a person not charged with any criminal behavior equate to “due process”?

There was no probable cause. There was no due process. The government wanted the money, so they took it.

Stories like this are staring to generate much needed publicity on just how abusive civil asset forfeiture has become. That’s a good thing.

In all the political ads this election cycle, I haven’t seen a single one address forfeiture. That’s unconscionable. It’s also not surprising.

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