If you’re the owner of a small business in the metro Detroit area or elsewhere in the United States, you likely make frequent runs to your local bank to deposit funds received.
And if you are at all representative of a prototypical shop, store, retailer or other type of enterprise operating across the country, it is just as likely that a number of transactions you make with your banker are for less than $10,000
And that is for various reasons, right? For starters, daily receipts for many businesses don’t reach that threshold amount. And, additionally, time-consuming and detailed bank reporting requirements kick in for deposits of 10 grand or more. If you can easily avoid those by depositing just under that amount, why wouldn’t you do so?
Well, here’s one reason why, as legions of small business owners across the nation already know: because the Criminal Investigation division of the IRS might come after you on grounds that your deposited money links with something like drug trafficking, with your transaction being an attempt to engage in unlawful money laundering.
For years now, the IRS has acted upon that assumption with this attendant action: it simply seizes your money under its asset forfeiture program and thereafter resists your attempts to get it back.
How often does this happen?
Reportedly, a lot — so often, actually, that a recent report authored by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration excoriates the IRS for its agents’ behavior under the mandates spelled out in the federal Bank Secrecy Act and demands material changes to how it is being carried out.
Here’s a truly scary bottom-line finding from the IG’s report: In more than 90 percent of cases it examined, IRS targets losing money through asset forfeiture were “businesses and individuals whose funds were obtained legally.”
That is scandalous, to be sure.
Things seem destined to change going forward, with U.S. legislators closely involved with the IRS and tax policy matters commending the IG’s report and demanding that it be acted upon to rein in the asset forfeiture program and render it far more accountable.