Lawmakers Urge IRS, Justice Department to Return $29K Seized from Dairy Farmers

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on the House Ways and Means Committee is urging the Justice Department, Treasury Department, and Internal Revenue Service to return money “inappropriately” seized by the IRS under civil asset forfeiture.

Led by Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam, R-Ill., and Ranking Member John Lewis, D-Ga., the group of 14 lawmakers also called on the agencies to give property owners the opportunity to petition the government for funds seized for structuring violations, which involve making consistent cash transactions of just under $10,000 to avoid bank reporting requirements.

In their letters, the lawmakers criticized the IRS and Justice Department for appearing “unconcerned that the IRS and DOJ’s actions in these cases unfairly harmed American citizens and have undermined Americans’ trust in their government,” and dragging their feet in returning the money.

Roskam, Lewis and their colleagues specifically referenced the case of Randy and Karen Sowers, owners of a dairy farm in Frederick, Md., who had $63,000 seized by the IRS for alleged structuring violations in 2012.

The tax agency claimed the couple deliberately made consistent cash withdrawals or deposits of just under $10,000 to avoid reporting requirements.

Though the Sowers said the money deposited into the dairy farm’s account came from customers who paid with cash at their local farmer’s market, they ended up settling with the federal government and forfeiting $29,500 to the IRS.

Roskam and Lewis first sent a letter to the Justice Department, Treasury Department and IRS urging them to return the $29,500 to the Sowers in August.

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