Stealing Money from Travelers: How the DEA Can Search, Seize, and Profit Without a Warrant

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Posted by Krista Chavez on Wednesday, August 17th, 2016, 10:00 AM PERMALINK


An investigation spanning the past several months by USA Today found that the Drug Enforcement Administration consistently searches through American travel records to seize millions of dollars using civil asset forfeiture.

It claims to be looking for drug traffickers, but the agency rarely uses the information found to actually make arrests. According to the USA Today investigation, DEA agents work with Amtrak agents and officers from nearly every major U.S. airliner to seize millions from people carrying large amounts of money. The units seized more than $209 million from over 5,000 people over the past decade, but the DOJ only took 87 federal cases to court to seize cash from travelers.

Assuming these 87 cases were included in the 5,000 number, only 1.7% of all seizures actually get prosecuted in court for drug trafficking. If the DEA is actually “combatting major criminal activity,” then it would actually be arresting and prosecuting these so-called criminals.

The DEA has also built one of the largest wiretapping operations in U.S. history in the suburbs of Los Angeles according to USA Today’s research. These investigators intercepted over 2 million conversations from around 44,000 people, according to federal court records. This operation once accounted for 1/5 of all U.S. wiretaps. Investigators found that DEA agents used these wiretaps to seize drugs and millions of dollars in cash, and they would tip off other investigators from other agencies. DEA agents then instructed the investigators to conduct their own independent searches (aka. parallel construction).

Riverside County’s District Attorney noted that for every 3 wiretaps last year, 1 arrest was made-one of the lowest rates of any jurisdiction in the nation conducting wiretaps.

When the Justice Department found out about this, it expressed fears that “the surveillance issues are unlikely to withstand legal challenges.”

Even the DOJ warned that this practice could be determined illegal, but the DEA continued to illegally watch, search, and seize from American citizens.

The DEA also became close with Amtrak employees and wasted more taxpayer dollars. More USA Today research found that the administration paid an Amtrak employee more than $850,000 since 1996 to serve as a confidential informant for the agency to identify and combat contraband trafficking. This money did nothing, for the information received was always available to the DEA at no extra cost. Another employee also received money ($9,701) for information again freely available to the DEA. The administration’s Inspector General noted that the project not only violated federal regulations but also “substantially wasted government funds.

The Justice Department, in accordance with the Drug Enforcement Administration, must end its ridiculous crusade against the rights of Americans by stopping its illegal search and seizure practice done in the name of civil asset forfeiture. When the inspector generals and district attorneys warn the agency and it continues this process, the department needs to end its vicious, million-dollar tirade against taxpayers. 

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Unconstitutional, Dangerous Step Taken to Give Up the Internet

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Posted by Daniel Savickas on Tuesday, August 16th, 2016, 5:31 PM PERMALINK


The NTIA announced on Tuesday that it intends to allow the United States’ control over the Internet to expire on October 1st. This is a move that threatens to let more power fall into the hands of authoritarian governments.

In a statement, released on the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) blog, the NTIA administrator, Larry Strickland, said, “Based on our review and barring any significant impediment, NTIA intends to allow the IANA functions contract to expire as of October 1.”

This will leave the Internet susceptible to authoritarian control.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Name and Numbers (ICANN), the organization in question, has repeatedly refused to comply with Senate requests for information on its relationship with the Chinese government. It also employs a former key member of Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak’s, government as an advisor.

This decision raises constitutional issues as well. According to Americans for Tax Reform’s Executive Director of Digital Liberty, Katie McAuliffe:

“If NTIA doesn’t extend its contract with ICANN to administer the IANA functions Sept. 30, then all of the work that they've done since the beginning of 2016 in examining the transition would be in violation of the funding ban rider.”

A coalition of 25 interest groups signed on to a letter urging Congress to sue for this very purpose. NTIA has run afoul of an appropriations rider that, even Strickland admitted “does restrict NTIA from using appropriated dollars to relinquish our stewardship.”

This move by NTIA also comes in the midst of a debate in Congress to ensure all issues are ironed out and approved by the legislature before any definitive decision is made. This moves the timeline up significantly.

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janice

Congress will either move too slow or let it happen. They are not representing the will of the people Throw them out

nobamunism

Sadly there is no opposition party in the Untied States.


Study: Millennials Show Strong Support for the Sharing Economy

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Posted by Toni-Anne Barry on Monday, August 15th, 2016, 2:49 PM PERMALINK


David Binder Research together with Airbnb recently released a nationwide study showing strong support of the sharing economy among millennials.

The study polled 1500 Americans nationally: 500 millennials, 500 swing-state millennials, and 500 older adults aged 35 and over.

Key findings include:

  • 75% of millennials believe Airbnb helps middle income families support their homes
  • 81% of swing state millennials support Airbnb operating in their local area
  • 65% of swing state millennials believe the sharing economy is going to become more important to the economy in the next five to ten years
     

The study defined swing states as New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, and Georgia.

 

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Bobo

so is it bad that I'm a millennial, and have no idea what airbnb is? I hear "Sharing Economy" and immediately think that I'm going to get taxed more to "share" my income with others. ...don't know if that is the premise, but find it funny that millenials get blamed or get the finger pointing for that type of behavior...when most behaviors are learned.

If it is speaking to some home business concept, and just some new fluffy term to describe an entrepreneurial spirit to make an extra buck... why strain so hard?

..off to google airbnb I guess.

Update: Ah, heard about this on the radio a couple weeks ago. ...yeah, going with second comment.


Oklahoma Places New Criminal Justice Measures on the Ballot in November

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Posted by Krista Chavez on Monday, August 15th, 2016, 9:30 AM PERMALINK


In November, Oklahomans will have the opportunity to cut crime and reduce big government in the courtroom.

State Questions 780 and 781 address Oklahoma’s overflowing prisons and high costs for criminal justice. SQ 780 reclassifies some low-level felony drug and property crimes as misdemeanors. SQ 781 requires the state to estimate the savings from these reclassifications and place that money towards recidivism prevention programs such as addiction treatment, education, and job training. It also increases funding or mental health treatment.

Studies show that by strategically reducing some sentences for non-violent offenses, crime rates can actually drop. Texas has taken this approach to great effect.

More than 110,000 Oklahoma voters signed petitions for these questions to go to a vote even though state law only requires 65,987 signatures.

Further, Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform will host several town hall events in the state to let local leaders advocate for the SQ’s. Leading the initiative is former House Speaker Kris Steele (R). During an interview with Oklahoma Watch, Steele notes that the measures would,

“Reduce the prison population, save money, and allow counties to make investments into evidence-based programming that improves public safety.

The budget for the Department of Corrections has grown by about 172 percent over the last two decades. And they’re still underfunded. There’s not enough money in the state of Oklahoma to pay for incarceration of all the people the Legislature wants to incarcerate.”

To improve the system, Oklahoma passed four major bipartisan bills into law on April 27th, 2016. H.B. 2472 gave prosecutors the discretion to file misdemeanor instead of felony charges for crimes not requiring offenders to serve 85% of their sentence, and H.B. 2753 expands drug courts and community sentencing for more defendants.  To fix mandatory minimum sentences, H.B. 2479 changes mandatory minimums and maximums for felony drug possessions. To fix property crimes, H.B. 2751 raised the threshold to be charged for property crimes.

These reforms aim to compliment the recent reforms. Oklahomans will give their own opinions about the criminal justice issue. State Questions 780 and 781 will be on the Oklahoma ballot in November 2016. 

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Clinton Tax Returns Show Death Tax Hypocrisy

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Friday, August 12th, 2016, 2:44 PM PERMALINK


Death Tax for thee, but not for me.

Hillary Clinton has always pushed for a steep Death Tax on the American people. But when it comes to her own finances, it is a different story. Clinton’s newly released tax returns show she still uses tax avoidance strategies to shield her Death Tax liability.

According to a 2014 report by Bloomberg News, the Clintons created trusts in 2010 and shifted ownership of their New York home to it in 2011. In doing so, they will avoid paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in future death taxes.

As Bloomberg reports:

To reduce the tax pinch, the Clintons are using financial planning strategies befitting the top 1 percent of U.S. households in wealth. These moves, common among multimillionaires, will help shield some of their estate from the tax that now tops out at 40 percent of assets upon death.

The Clintons created residence trusts in 2010 and shifted ownership of their New York house into them in 2011, according to federal financial disclosures and local property records.

But Hillary Clinton’s official campaign website, in calling for a steep Death Tax hike, scolds:

She will also close complex loopholes, including methods that people can now use to make their estates appear to be worth less than they really are.

Oh! Let’s go back to the Bloomberg article:

Among the tax advantages of such trusts is that any appreciation in the house’s value can happen outside their taxable estate. The move could save the Clintons hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes, said David Scott Sloan, a partner at Holland & Knight LLP in Boston.

“The goal is really be thoughtful and try to build up the nontaxable estate, and that’s really what this is,” Sloan said. “You’re creating things that are going to be on the nontaxable side of the balance sheet when they die.”

Interesting.

Clinton said that “the estate tax has been historically part of our very fundamental belief that we should have a meritocracy.”

The newly released Clinton tax return shows the continued use of an Article 4 Trust, as shown on Schedule E, page 2.


While Clinton is all too happy to use tax avoidance mechanisms, as a senator she voted against repealing the Death Tax and even voted against giving small businesses and families a higher level of Death Tax exemption:

  • In 2001, Clinton voted no on H.R. 1836, “the Economic Growth and Tax Reconciliation Act,” which contained a series of tax cuts, one of which increased the Death Tax exemption level to $3.5 million.
  • In 2005, Clinton voted no on H.R. 8, “the Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act of 2005,” which fully repealed the Death Tax.
  • In 2006, Clinton voted no on H.R. 5970, “the Estate Tax and Extension of Tax Relief Act of 2006,” which increased the Death Tax exemption level to $5 million.
  • In 2008, Clinton voted no on S.Amdt.4191, legislation to increase the Death Tax exemption level to $5 million.

If Clinton truly believes the Death Tax is about the “fundamental belief that we should have a meritocracy,” she should put her money where her mouth is and pay up.

See also: 

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Laniakea Official

Riiiiiiiight......... Suuuure he did.

JC

The only president to effectively raise taxes on the rich was Ronald Reagan. And he did it along with lowering taxes on the middle class. He lowered the tax rates for everyone, but eliminated the loopholes used by the rich to avoid paying taxes. The progressives have been working ever since to reverse what he did.


Team USA Olympic Athletes Could Owe More Than $250,000

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Friday, August 12th, 2016, 10:23 AM PERMALINK


Only 7 days into the Rio Olympics, Team USA medalists could already owe the IRS more than $250,000.

As the 2016 Rio Olympics continue, Team USA’s tax bill will keep rising with each gold, silver, or bronze medal our athletes win. The breakdown of how much Team USA could owe based on Team USA's medals earned thus far is shown below:

As a reward for winning a medal, U.S. Olympic athletes receive a monetary award that is considered regular income, subject to taxation. The U.S. Olympic Committee rewards its medalists with $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze.  

Our nation’s best athletes could face a bill as high as $9,900 per gold medal, $5,940 per silver medal, and $3,960 per bronze medal. These are the maximum possible tax amounts, and vary widely based on an individual’s tax brackets, circumstances, and available deductions. Still, the athletes must reckon their medal winnings with the IRS code, a headache they can do without.

                                             Maximum Prize Tax             

Gold                                      $9,900                  

Silver                                    $5,940                  

Bronze                                  $3,960     

Americans for Tax Reform brought the issue to the public’s attention during the 2012 Olympics. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) took the lead and immediately introduced The Olympic Tax Elimination Act. The bill called for IRS code to be changed so that the gross income of U.S. medal winners “shall not include the value of any prize or award won by the taxpayer in athletic competition in the Olympic Games.” 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney also called for an end to the tax.

In March 2016, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced a bill (S. 2650) to stop the IRS from taxing Team USA medalists. The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent on July 12.

In the House, Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) introduced a similar bill called the TEAM Act (H.R. 2628).

Americans who wish to express their support for the House bill can do so through the petition here or sign below:

 

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The Administration's Assault on Article 1

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Friday, August 12th, 2016, 9:35 AM PERMALINK


Whether Democrat, Republican, or Independent, as an American, you likely care about the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches. 

The Department of Commerce, via the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), is directly violating a law that forbids it from using funds to transfer the Internet Domain Name contract away from United States oversight.  

Congress should not enable an administration that picks and chooses which laws to follow. It should sue to enforce its Power of the Purse and reaffirm our system of checks and balances.

Americans for Tax Reform signed on to a coalition letter urging the United States Congress to do just that. 

The following can be attributed to Americans for Tax Reform President, Grover Norquist: 

“Congress has already won in court on the Obama Administration’s ‘inappropriate’ spending of funds to pay for the Affordable Care Act.  Congress did not appropriate the cost-sharing provisions and the Administration went ahead and spent the money - that was found to be a violation of the U.S. Constitution. 

“Suing to enforce the appropriations rider, preventing the NTIA from spending funds towards the IANA transition and extending that rider through 2017, is important.  It is a key battle in the fight to protect constitutionally separated powers. 

“Both parties should have a real interest in protecting the Congressional Power of the Purse.  If legislation is no longer binding, Congress forfeits a basic check on Executive power.”

This administration is setting the precedent for all future presidencies.  The executive had bent, indeed broken, the rules and ignore Congressional protests.  The NTIA's action is another example. 

In order to allow some pre-existing issues to be settled, Congress forbade the NTIA from using congressionally appropriated funds to go towards the transition. However, in 2016, the NTIA released a report indicating they were looking into, and dedicating resources to the transition. This is in violation of federal law prohibiting the NTIA from using funds in the years 2015 and 2016 to further the transition of the IANA contract.

Regardless of the numerous concerns surrounding IANA stewardship and the security issues with the transition, the NTIA’s action presents a threat to our democracy. The executive is ignoring a congressional appropriation. This is a signal of disrespect to the Constitution and separation of powers.

Lawmakers should unite behind suing to enforce the power of the purse, it’s most basic constitutionally enumerated check. Otherwise, legislation in Congress will be viewed as non-binding and the legislative branch’s power to check the executive will be greatly diminished. 

The full text of the coalition letter can be found here.

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Hillary Is Painfully Clueless on the Corporate Rate

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Thursday, August 11th, 2016, 1:22 PM PERMALINK


Today Hillary Clinton criticized Donald Trump’s proposal to reduce the corporate income tax rate. In a Monday speech at the Detroit Economic Club, Trump reaffirmed his commitment to lowering taxes for ALL businesses. This is welcome news because America has the highest tax rates for businesses in the developed world. Lowering business taxes to a globally competitive rate will allow our businesses to compete against foreign competitors and put a stop to corporate inversions and foreign acquisitions of American assets.

The Trump tax plan calls for lowering the tax rate for all businesses to 15 percent. A rate reduction is desperately needed. The current corporate income tax rate is 39 percent (federal rate of 35 percent plus the average state rate of 4 percent) while the top federal rate for businesses organized as pass-through entities is 39.6 percent.

In contrast, Hillary has suggested there is no need to lower the corporate rate. Clinton advisor Neera Tanden recently suggested that Hillary would oppose any effort to lower the corporate income tax rate because “the U.S. has been doing pretty well when it comes to competitiveness." This position puts Hillary far to the left, far outside the mainstream of economic thought.


Chart by Strategas Research Partners using Tax Foundation and OECD data

Rather than reduce the extremely high, uncompetitive corporate tax rate, Clinton has proposed an “exit tax.” The term “exit tax” is used by the campaign itself. Her campaign document describing this proposal says it will impose an $80 billion tax increase.

The Clinton campaign has called for at least $1 trillion in higher taxes including a $275 billion tax hike through unspecified “business tax reform.” Her campaign has failed to release specific details on these proposals so the true Clinton net tax hike figure is likely much higher than $1 trillion

Clinton’s refusal to acknowledge and address America’s high business tax rates will ensure that America’s competitiveness problem remains unresolved.

As shown in the chart above, America’s corporate income tax rate is close to 15 percent higher than the average in the developed world. The tax rate has barely changed since tax reform was passed 30 years ago in 1986.  At the time, we lowered our rate to 39 percent – below the developed average of 44 percent. Since then, other countries have cut their rates aggressively.

31 of the 34 OECD countries have reduced their corporate rates since 2000. Only the U.S. and Chile have higher corporate tax rates than they did in 2000. Our high rate makes it difficult, if not impossible for our businesses to compete with competitors that have much lower rates Canada (26.3 percent), the United Kingdom (20 percent), and Ireland (12.5 percent).

This inaction has resulted in close to 50 American businesses leaving the country through an inversion in the past decade, according to data compiled by Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee. America has also lost an additional $179 billion worth of assets through acquisitions by foreign competitors, according to a report by Ernst and Young.

Clearly there is a need to reduce business taxes, both to reduce the burden on American businesses and to allow them to compete with foreign competitors. While the Trump tax plan calls for across the board business tax reductions, the Clinton plan would only make the tax code more complex and burdensome for American businesses.

 

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John

Clinton wants to punish the successful people who create jobs and effectively make the average person dependant on the Govt instead. It's lunacy. Goodbye America if she gets elected and gets that plan through congress.


Report: IRS Failing to Screen Contractors for Unpaid Taxes

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Thursday, August 11th, 2016, 11:46 AM PERMALINK


The IRS is failing to ensure contractors have paid all taxes owed as required by federal law, according to a new report by the Treasury Inspector General for the Tax Administration (TIGTA).

29 percent of businesses receiving IRS contracts were granted these contracts without tax checks, according to the report.  Under both internal IRS policy and federal law, the IRS is required to check if contractors have paid their taxes and fully comply with federal law before the business is granted a federal contract. As the report explains:,

“Federal appropriations law prohibits the IRS from awarding contracts to tax delinquent corporations. Current IRS policy requires a tax check for all bidders in the competitive range (under consideration for award) on solicitations greater than $250,000.”

Not only did the IRS fail to check whether contractors had paid their taxes, the agency also failed to ensure competing bidders had paid taxes. As the report notes:

“21 (29 percent) of the 73 contract awards reviewed did not have evidence that the contracting officer performed the required tax check on the winning bidders. In all 73 contracts (100 percent), there was no evidence that the other qualified bidders underwent a tax check, as required.”

This is not the first time TIGTA has raised concern about the IRS’ process of awarding contractors. A 2015 TIGTA report found that the IRS illegally gave 57 contracts valued at $18.8 million to 17 corporations, who had outstanding tax debt or a felony conviction.  

This report identified ZERO contracts that contained the required contract clause and certification guidelines to ensure tax debts of contractors had been paid. As a result, TIGTA estimated that at least 94 percent of contracts had been awarded without adhering to this law.

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Hans Tanzler Signs the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to the American People

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Posted by Alec DiFruscia on Friday, August 5th, 2016, 2:55 PM PERMALINK


Hans Tanzler (R-FL), candidate for Congress in Florida’s 4th  Congressional District, has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to the American people. The Pledge is a written commitment to the citizens of Florida and to the American people to oppose all tax increases. Tanzler is running to replace retiring Congressman Ander Crenshaw.

Tanzler’s career has spanned both the private and public sector, including spending time as a federal prosecuter in the 1980s. After his time as a prosecutor, Tanzler returned the private sector where he specialized in corporate restructuring and saved several companies from the brink of collapse. Mr. Tanzler currently serves on the University of North Florida Board of Trustees.

 “The American people are tired of the tax-and-spend policies coming from Washington and they are looking for solutions that create jobs, cut government spending, and get the economy going again. Signing the Pledge is the first step in that process.”

The Taxpayer Protection Pledge has been offered to every candidate for federal office since 1986. In the 114th Congress, 218 Congressmen and 48 Senators have signed the Pledge.

“We are ecstatic about Tanzler’s commitment to the taxpayers of Florida. I challenge all candidates for Florida’s 4th Congressional District to make the same commitment to taxpayers by signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge today,” continued Norquist.

Hans Tanzler will run in Florida’s 4th Congressional District Primary on August 30th. 

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