An Iowa woman named Carole Hinders saw her bank balance go from $33,000 to zero thanks to IRS confiscation. Hinders, who owns a small, cash-only Mexican restaurant, has not been charged with any crime and is not suspected of tax fraud. The IRS says they took her money solely because she deposited too little of it at a time, and the agency claims she did so to avoid the required reporting of any bank transaction over $10,000. She says she just thought it was helpful to save the bank paperwork.
Though the $10,000 rule is ostensibly designed to help catch terrorists and drug dealers, it is far more often used on regular citizens who are unlikely to ever see their money returned. "I don't think [the IRS is] really interested in anything," said a lawyer representing another seizure case. "They just want the money."
To keep her restaurant afloat following the confiscation of her savings, Hinders has had to take out a second mortgage and max out her credit cards. "How can this happen?" she asks. "Who takes your money before they prove that you've done anything wrong with it?"