Twenty-one Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee have penned a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to demand the Justice Department return millions in seized funds to several hundred U.S. taxpayers.
The money had been seized by the Internal Revenue Service in prior years under suspicion of structuring, an obscure provision in the federal code preventing repeated bank deposits of less than $10, 000 for the purpose of evading federal reporting requirements. Ostensibly, the purpose of the law is to make it harder for individuals to launder money obtained through crimes like drug trafficking. But a 2017 report by the Treasury’s Inspector General analyzed 278 of these cases and found that, in 91 percent of them, the people who had had their money seized had obtained the funds legally.
The IRS reviewed 208 of those petitions and granted 84 percent of them. It referred the remaining 256 cases to the Department of Justice because of how the forfeitures had initially been processed, recommending that the DOJ grant 76 percent of them.
However, today’s letter alleges that the DOJ largely ignored the IRS’ recommendations and granted only 16 percent of the petitions it received, refusing to return over $22 million in seized funds.