Civil Asset Forfeiture

IRS Agrees to Apply New Forfeiture Standards to Old Case, Give Back Convenience Store Owner's Life Savings

IRS initially stole $153,907.99 from Ken Quran for taking money out of his own bank account in amounts the government found suspicious.


The IRS is finally acting justly by retroactively applying new standards in civil forfeiture (that is, naked government theft) law to an older case out of North Carolina, as announced today by the Institute for Justice (I.J.).


I.J. represented the injured convenience store owner Ken Quran, who had his life savings taken from him for the "crime" of making withdrawals from his bank in amounts the federal government finds suspicious.

Details from an I.J. press release today:

Ken's money was seized under so-called "structuring" laws. These laws were designed to target criminals evading bank-reporting requirements. But under IRS policy at the time of the seizure, the IRS applied the structuring laws to seize cash from individuals and businesses accused only of frequent under-$10,000 cash transactions.

The IRS changed its policies in October 2014 to prevent such seizures. But those changes came too late for people like Ken, whose property was seized before the policy change.

So, in July 2015, the Institute for Justice submitted a petition to the IRS on Ken's behalf, arguing that the IRS should apply its policy retroactively to Ken's case. The petition argued that the money "would not be seized—much less forfeited—under current government policy" and urged the IRS to "do the right thing and give the money back."

This week, IJ sent a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen following up on the petition—and urging the IRS to act quickly to give Ken his money back.

Today's letter states that Ken's petition is granted "in full."….

According to data obtained by the Institute for Justice from the IRS via the Freedom of Information Act, the IRS forfeited about $43 million in 618 structuring cases between 2007 and 2013 in which the IRS reported no suspicion of criminal activity other than the mere fact of sub-$10,000 cash deposits.

Jacob Sullum reported earlier this month on a very similar I.J. victory involving another North Carolina convenience store owner Lyndon McClellan, when the IRS was ordered to return his stolen cash plus interest and legal expenses.

Past Reason writings on the bullshit crime of "structuring".

Institute for Justice video on the story: