Senator Chuck Grassley is crafting a bill to ensure changes the Internal Revenue Service has promised to make about seizing property are made law.
Grassley points to the recent decision by federal prosecutors to return cash seized from a Spirit Lake restaurant owner who authorities suspected of structuring the daily cash deposits from her restaurant to hide criminal activity. She was never charged with a crime, however.
“In the case of the Iowa restaurant owner and others like it, the IRS has now adopted an enforcement policy in which it won’t seize assets under the structuring law unless there’s evidence of underlying criminal activity, unless there’s are some extenuating circumstances,” Grassley says. “Since the IRS changed its approach in these cases, it could change its approach again and the same could be true of other federal agencies that seize property.”
Grassley says that’s why he wants to pass a law that will make the current policy permanent.
“My goal for legislative reform is to make sure the government’s power to seize assets also conserves common sense,” Grassley says.
Grassley’s proposed limittion on seizures would also apply to local police and state authorities. He cites the case of two professional poker players from California who had a hundred thousand dollars in cash seized in Iowa by state troopers during a traffic stop along Interstate 80.
“My reforms will be aimed at curbing instances in which government power unfairly infringes on the rights of motorists, small business owners and other Americans,” Grassley says. “I’m not very far along on writing this legislation. I’m still doing research, but I believe it’s something that we can get some sort of bipartisan agreement on.”
Grassley will become chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in January when Republicans take majority control of the U.S. Senate and he plans to make this bill a priority in his committee.