Matthew J. Adams

Dems Introduce Bills to Pad Presidential Prospects

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Posted by Matthew J. Adams on Friday, August 17th, 2018, 5:12 PM PERMALINK

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) recently introduced two pieces of legislation that would put Washington bureaucrats further in charge of the financial and business activities of everyday Americans. If this sounds like nothing more than a series of signaling bills to use on the campaign trail for election to higher office, that’s exactly right.  

Warren’s legislation, the Accountable Capitalism Act, would force corporations that make more than $1 billion in revenue annually to obtain a federal charter of corporate citizenship from the Department of Commerce to operate, and force private companies to hand over control to employees who may not even have a stake in the financial projections of the business.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed paired with release of the bill, Warren plays the classic Democrat strategy of blaming CEOs and corporate management, arguing they funnel money to shareholders instead of employees and use stock buybacks to enhance their own wealth. However, as ATR’s Christina Mitsopoulos writes, “the stock market is far more accessible to average investors than most Americans think. Seventy-five percent of corporate investment is held by individual households, pension funds, mutual funds, and 401(k) funds rather than by taxable entities (i.e. “rich people”)”.

The legislation also includes portions that would further force these companies to allow employees to elect 40% of the business’s board of directors and requires a supermajority of “not less than 75 percent of the shareholders of the corporation and not less than 75 percent of the directors of the corporation” to approve any political expenditures.

This will only dictate the ways a private corporation is allowed to act, which is concerning considering political expenditures are often used as an avenue to build coalitions for smart regulatory frameworks or to advocate against laws that will add compliance costs. This approach also puts politics into the workplace, where employees will choose leaders based on their partisan beliefs and not on the long-term performance of the business.

On a similar big-government note, Booker’s legislation, the Stop Overdraft Profiteering Act, would prohibit overdraft fees on debit card transactions and ATM withdrawals, and further prohibit banks from charging more than one overdraft fee a month, with no more than six per calendar year.

Simply defined as a charge imposed when an individual spends more than what they have in their checking account, it is essentially a fee for allowing the customer to borrow extra money owned by the bank. Interestingly enough, Booker seemingly ignores the fact that overdraft fees only account for a small percentage of bank's net income. Additionally, a study from the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP) found that the lion’s share of overdraft fees goes to only 8.3% of consumers who account for 73.7% of all overdraft fees charged by banks.

Further provisions of the legislation also include a mandate that would require banks to offer “a clear explanation of how the terms and fees for such alternative services and products differ”.

This is nonsensical considering a 30-second internet search can give consumers all the information needed about overdraft fees and charges. Just one of the numerous resources available is a detailed FAQ compiled by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) on overdraft rules and terms. The FDIC, a federal regulatory agency which oversees banks and insures bank deposits up to $250,000, also notes that the average overdraft fee is $35 and that many banks even offer overdraft protection.

While overdraft fees do not discriminate based on wealth, low-income people often use overdrafts as a form of a short-term loan. For example, someone could have bills exceeding what they have in their savings due on the 14th of the month, but get a direct deposit from their employer on the 15th, and can elect to pay the small fee from overdrafting instead of having multiple fees from paying their bills late.

Presenting their proposed laws as vital to saving consumers from what they see as being taken advantage of, their legislation will perpetuate a “Washington knows best” attitude that was largely responsible for the issues in the first place. The regulatory burden from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act has increased legal and compliance costs for U.S. financial institutions, letting hardworking Americans deal with the fallout.  

Warren and Booker were given a chance to help end the burdensome regulation back in March when the Senate voted on S.2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, which rolls back Dodd-Frank rules on small and regional banks, and credit unions. Yet, they chose to put likely presidential bids before consumer choice when they voted against the bill, which nevertheless was passed with widespread bipartisan support and later signed by President Trump.

What Democrats always seem to forget is that their political messaging bills have real world consequences, and when creating more hoops to jump through for businesses or capping overdraft fees, companies and banks will look elsewhere to make up lost revenue from higher operational costs. These costs are ultimately passed onto consumers and make it more challenging for those of low economic means to purchase products from companies or to participate in banking activities.

While one can make valid criticisms about greed in the financial system, shareholders and overdraft fees are not the source of that greed. Proposals to regulate them are nothing more than solutions in search of problems and would only hurt American consumers and workers. If Senators Warren and Booker really had the public’s best interests in mind, they would be pursuing pro-growth policies, not ones that only pander to the left.

Photo Credit: @SenateDems


Trump Talks Tax and Regulation with Representative Tenney

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Posted by Matthew J. Adams on Tuesday, August 14th, 2018, 12:01 PM PERMALINK

Last Monday, President Donald Trump was in Utica at a fundraiser for Representative Claudia Tenney. At the fundraiser, President Trump discussed Rep. Tenney’s wins in cutting taxes and regulations, putting more money in the pockets of central New Yorkers and putting them back in charge of their finances.

Thanks to Rep. Tenney and President Trump, 90% of wage earners have higher take-home pay because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Recent action that amends parts of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act further builds on this economic upswing and delivers much needed relief to Upstate.

Washington imposed the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010 following the financial collapse and subsequent recession that left the American economy crippled. The law forced small banks to sit on capital that could have been used to stimulate the economy. With the added compliance costs under President Obama, federal regulators were given control over the finances of New Yorkers.

President Obama hastily signed the legislation before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which was established by the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009 and tasked with investigating the causes of the collapse, even had a chance to submit their findings to Congress.

Rather than taking incremental and well-thought-out approaches to oversight, legislators crafting Dodd-Frank treated all financial service firms as bad actors, drawing no distinction between Main Street and Wall Street. The American Action Forum found that in just eight years, Dodd-Frank and its 22,000 pages of rules cost Americans $38.9 in billion regulatory costs and generated 83 million paperwork hours.

Growing tired of a “Washington knows best” approach to regulation, banks were forced to limit or completely cut products like affordable small loans and free checking accounts. Consumers who enjoyed the services saw them disappear before their eyes while being replaced with high interest rates or monthly servicing fees as these smaller financial institutions had no other choice but to push the cost of the complex regulations onto their customers. It didn’t stop there; over two dozen banks across the state and hundreds across the country closed their doors since Dodd-Frank became law because of its crushing red tape.

In light of this, it’s no surprise that voters concerned about their family members and their own financial situation sent Claudia Tenney and Donald Trump to D.C. to cut the overspending and overregulation, making sure working families no longer had to worry about their budget running dry before the end the of the month.

After coming to Congress and the White House in 2016, the two immediately got to work.  Making good on campaign promises to loosen burdensome banking regulations and expand consumer freedom, Rep. Tenney helped author portions of S.2155, which President Trump signed this past May. Introduced by Senate Banking Committee Chairman, Mike Crapo (R-S.D.), the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act rolls back provisions of Dodd-Frank that hampered community and regional banks, as well as credit unions.

By tailoring capital reserve requirements and loosening lending restrictions, S.2155 enables local financial institutions to better serve our communities as customers have new found accessibility to loans and mortgages. As Rep. Tenney noted, the bill “will allow community banks to free up resources to support community growth and serve small businesses, family farmers and entrepreneurs.”

Serving on a committee like Financial Services, the New Hartford native has become a lead sponsor on legislation that repeals harmful regulations by reaching across the aisle to advance pro-growth policies. Because of her efforts, hard-working New Yorkers are back in the driver’s seat when charting their financial futures. Her role in the passage of S.2155 means more opportunity for veterans to finance their first home, seniors to plan for their retirement, and children to invest in their future.  

Promises made have been promises kept under this administration and Congress. Thanks to President Trump and members like Rep. Claudia Tenney, the American economy is bouncing back from eight straight years of disastrous policies that increased taxes and destroyed consumer choice.

Photo Credit: CafeCredit


ATR Applauds Passage of JOBS and Investor Confidence Act – JOBS Act 3.0

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Posted by Matthew J. Adams on Friday, July 20th, 2018, 4:30 PM PERMALINK

On Tuesday, the House passed the JOBS and Investor Confidence Act, a substitute amendment to Senator Pat Toomey’s S.488. Led in the House by Financial Services Committee Chairman, Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), in a 403-4 vote, the bipartisan measure will help smaller companies become the Apples of tomorrow, eliminating regulations on capital formation.

Also known as JOBS 3.0, the proposed law is a package of over 30 individual pieces of legislation sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats. By amending U.S. securities laws administered by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the act builds off of previous JOBS-like packages signed into law in 2012 and 2015 that eased rules on crowd funding and fintech.

Over the past 20 years, restrictions on securities and investments has increased 80%, making it harder for new companies and even more established ones to finance their ventures. With all this red tape, the cost of going public has rose to over $4.2 million on average and can easily take over a year. Because of this, the number of IPOs is nearly half of what it was 20 years ago.

A win for investors and entrepreneurs alike, the act removes barriers in capital markets for startups and reduces rules on initial public offerings. With a more open and steady flow of capital, companies will be able to expand their business presence and better compete in the global economy. 
 

Highlights of the bill include:

  • H.R. 79 - Helping Angels Lead Our Startups Act by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio)

Clarifies the definition of “general solicitation”, fixing an issue in the original definition that barred partnerships and communication between certain startups and angel investors who inject capital into startups in exchange for equity in the business. This allows startups to host demo-days where they exhibit their progress with investors without having to go through burdensome registration with the SEC before they have even offered equity or stock options to interested financiers.
 

  • H.R. 1585 - Fair Investment Opportunities for Professional Experts Act by Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.)

Broadens the definition of an “accredited investor” by expanding it to those with extensive education or job experience in business. Before, those allowed to invest in nonpublic offerings is exclusive to wealthy investors who met a threshold of a $1 million net worth or $200,000 yearly income. By taking into account a person’s expertise instead of just their bank account, this provision creates a larger pool of investors who can engage in financing the capital needs of new firms.
 

  • H.R. 3903 - Encouraging Public Offerings Act by Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.)

Expands confidential registration provisions for all businesses, allowing a company to keep information private until they’ve committed to going public. This provides safe harbor for companies considering the benefits of going public, allowing them to test the waters and engage in discussions with investors without being penalized by regulatory agencies during consideration.
 

  • H.R.1343 - Encouraging Employee Ownership Act by Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.)

Raises the threshold in which a company has to file a confidential disclosure where they outline their risk factors and financial statements from $5 million in stock options to $10 million, with provisions for this to be indexed for inflation. The outdated threshold limited the amount of stock ownership that could be offered to employees and discouraged many from offering any stock or equity at all. These changes increase the ability and ease at which a business can allow worker-ownership in a company.
 

Upon passage, Chairman Hensarling noted:

“The small businesses of today become the Amazons, Googles and Microsofts of tomorrow. Thanks to the hard work of Members on both sides of the aisle – especially Ranking Member Maxine Waters who worked so strongly and fervently on a bipartisan, cooperative basis – this bill will make a difference for economic growth for all Americans.”
 

The overwhelming support in the House clearly shows the widespread consensus among legislators from both sides of aisle who realize our Main Street businesses are in desperate need of relief. Americans for Tax Reform looks forward to engaging with the Senate on these measures. 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


Mulvaney’s Reorganization Prioritizes Taxpayers and Increases Efficiency

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Posted by Matthew J. Adams on Friday, July 6th, 2018, 11:24 AM PERMALINK

With the recent release of Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney’s reorganization of the government, President Donald Trump is making good on his promise to put hardworking American taxpayers first.

Mulvaney’s report, Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century, outlines ways in which the executive can deliver a mission, service, and stewardship driven approach to governance. With the wheels in motion, the administration is moving forward with its ambitious yet necessary initiative to modernize the functions of the federal government.

Taking from the President’s Management Agenda released in March, Mulvaney recommends a series of proposals that streamline the bureaucracy. Rather than throwing billions and billions at programs hoping to see better results, the reorganization goes at the issue root and branch.

Highlights Include:

  • Merging the Department of Education and the Department of Labor into a Department of Education and the Workforce
  • Consolidating food safety programs into a Federal Food Safety Agency
  • Privatizing the United States Postal Service
  • Privatizing Fannie-Mae and Freddie-Mac
  • Digitizing recordkeeping

 

For years, duplication, overlap, and fragmentation in the regulatory state has been far too common. Emphasizing just one example of the redundancy of certain federal regulations, Mulvaney noted that “A chicken, it's governed by the USDA. If that chicken lays an egg, it's governed by the FDA, but if you break the egg and make an omelette, that's again governed by the USDA.”

Jeffrey Cox, President of the American Federation of Government Employees, representing 700,000 federal workers, was quick to lambast the plan. This comes as no surprise as unaccountable bureaucrats are realizing the reorganization poses a serious threat to their cushy jobs paid by taxpayer dollars.

Furthermore, the reorganization builds on President Trump’s efforts to end intrusive regulations and cut taxes for every American. Slashing through mountains of federal red tape, the administration’s “2 for 1” rule has turned out to be twenty-two deregulatory actions for every one new regulatory action, already saving taxpayers $4.9 billion since the start of the new year. And thanks to the GOP Congress’s work with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, 90% of wage earners have higher take-home pay.

The reorganization serves as the crucial third pillar in the triumvirate that ‘Drains the Swap’ and puts ‘America First’. President Trump and OMB Director Mulvaney’s initiative is a long-overdue fix that ends the bloated bureaucracy that’s flourished unchecked for decades. Their plan will increase efficiency, effectiveness, and taxpayer accountability, reining in a run-a-muck federal government, bringing it into the 21st century.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


ATR Releases List of June 5th Primary Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers

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Posted by Matthew J. Adams on Monday, June 4th, 2018, 12:22 PM PERMALINK

Editor's Note: This blog post was updated to reflect the addition of several Pledge signers over the weekend. 

Americans for Tax Reform applauds all candidates who have signed the “no new taxes” pledge; a written commitment to oppose any and all tax increases.

Americans for Tax Reform has shared the Pledge with all candidates for federal office since 1986. Nearly 1,400 elected officials have signed the Pledge. In the 115th Congress, 46 Senators and 208 Representatives have signed.

Below are links to press releases detailing incumbents and challengers who have made this important commitment to their constituents:

 

Photo Credit: Wiki Commons


Treasury Refuses to Eliminate Taxpayer Funded Bailouts

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Posted by Matthew J. Adams on Thursday, March 22nd, 2018, 4:07 PM PERMALINK

At the end of February, the Treasury Department released a report responding to a memoranda requested by President Trump in 2017 on Dodd-Frank’s Orderly Liquidation Authority (OLA).

In the 53 page report, Treasury proposed a series of recommendations that would work to reform the OLA. While the recommendations are a step in the right direction, they fail to recommend a complete repeal of the OLA, which Americans for Tax Reform has consistently called for in the past. This is the only real solution to protect taxpayers from footing the bill as a result of bailing out a financial services firm.

Established under Title II of Dodd-Frank, the OLA was created as a government-run alternative to bankruptcy. With the collapse of investment giant Lehman Brothers Holdings in 2008 during the subprime mortgage crisis and their following (and still ongoing) bankruptcy, many point to this as the need for the OLA. As a result, the OLA was offered as the solution to quickly dissolve failing financial institutions instead of going through the process of drawn out bankruptcy proceedings.

Under Title II, companies in default or close to default can be seized under approval by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and Treasury Secretary, and liquidated under a process run by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). This massive expansion of powers given to the FDIC took them out of the realm of commercial banking, and granted them regulatory power over the affairs of other financial institutions. Once an orderly liquidation is approved, firms are placed under FDIC receivership, where the FDIC replaces the role of a judge in a traditional bankruptcy court.

Instead of allowing the firms to go into bankruptcy, the FDIC provides capital by dipping into funds from the Treasury to finance the liquidation, all at the expense of taxpayers. Rather than selling off the solvent parts of a firm, the FDIC can move the risk and bad assets onto taxpayers and essentially use the capital as a government backed guarantee. Thus, the government retains the risky or poor performing assets and portfolios.  

This has made taxpayer bailouts a permanent fixture in the financial services industry, where creditors who invested in the financial wealth of a failed firm are paid first, leaving hardworking Americans on the hook for the firm if no other institutions offer to buy the company.

Additionally, under Dodd-Frank, Congress ceded most of their power to unelected bureaucrats, in which the Federal Reserve, Treasury Secretary, and FDIC can act with autonomy and impunity, leaving our lawmakers with limited oversight in any part of the process.

After getting access to the Treasury’s report, House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling was quick to point out its inconsistencies and failures:

“Dodd-Frank’s Orderly Liquidation Authority expressly enables taxpayer funded bailouts; it does not prevent them. It is therefore difficult to square today’s report with the President’s clear guidance on this issue.”

Where the Treasury report fails, the Financial CHOICE Act succeeds. Passed in the House in June of last year, the bill repeals Title II of Dodd-Frank, fully eliminating the Orderly Liquidation Authority. The Senate should consider similar legislation that protects taxpayers in the future.

Photo Credit: Mark Pouley


Kennedy Sponsors Bill to Stop Paying Dead People

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Posted by Matthew J. Adams on Thursday, March 15th, 2018, 3:24 PM PERMALINK

Last month, Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced legislation that would stop agencies from paying dead people.

The Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act, S.2374, targets erroneous disbursements from executive agencies to the beneficiaries of deceased individuals, also known as “improper payments.”

Alarmingly, tax dollars are wasted on such payments far more often than you might think. A recent report by the SSA’s Office of Inspector General found that there were more than 3,900 beneficiaries marked as deceased who may still be receiving improper social security payments. Beyond that, the report found that the SSA paid out $37.7 million in improper payments to 746 dead individuals.

Unfortunately, improper payments aren’t just isolated to the SSA. In their Consolidated Financial Statement for FY 2015- 2016, the Government Accountability Office found that improper payments across executive agencies cost taxpayers over $140 billion. 

While some of the blame for these improper payments can be placed on bureaucratic incompetence, it is primarily caused by inaccuracies in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Death Master File or “death database,” and the fact that some executive agencies have only partial or no access to it at all.

Fortunately for taxpayers, Kennedy’s S.2374 would address these problems by allowing federal agencies to have complete access to the death database, and by giving the Government Accountability Office and the Office of Management and Budget oversight of the database and it’s sharing.

Accompanying legislation with over a dozen cosponsors has also been introduced in the House, H.R.4929, by Representative Greg Gianforte (R-MT).

If implemented, these bills would improve accountability over bureaucratic agencies, improve the accuracy and accessibility of our death database, and ultimately reduce the amount of hard-earned tax dollars that are spent on dead people, making them a huge victory for taxpayers across the country.

Americans for Tax Reform recently signed on to a coalition letter with numerous other conservative organizations supporting the legislation. That letter can be found here.

Photo Credit: Wiki Commons


Fannie & Freddie Bailout Request Highlights Need for Housing Finance Reform

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Posted by Matthew J. Adams on Monday, February 19th, 2018, 4:59 PM PERMALINK

Last week, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac issued requests to the U.S. Treasury asking for billions of dollars in cash infusions. The requests come after Q4 2017 reports show net losses totaling billions for the two housing institutions, forcing them to draw on their line of credit with the Treasury. The request is roughly $3.7 billion for Fannie Mae, and $312 million for Freddie Mac.

While Fannie and Freddie blame their requests on passage of the GOP’s tax reform, others criticize their contrived multi-billion dollar payments to trust funds while lacking sufficient capital to continue paying. In reality, the requests were spurred from their capital reserves declining toward $0 over the past year, paired with write-downs of their deferred tax assets, prompting the ask for a withdrawal from the Treasury’s coffers. The request has been long-expected from economists and market observers, but it nevertheless indicates the urgency for housing reform.

The two institutions are America’s largest mortgage companies, standing behind $5 trillion in mortgage debt. Spurred by the Great Depression and the following housing market collapse, consumers quickly defaulted on mortgages and lenders themselves lacked, hoarded, or simply stopped loaning capital. Congress quickly moved to alleviate the problem, and created Fannie Mae in 1938 as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal. Formed as a government sponsored enterprise or GSE, it created a national fund for mortgage lending, with loans backed by an implicit government guarantee. In the late 60s and early 70s it was converted to a publicly traded company, and Freddie Mac was founded shortly after to compete with Fannie. However, both bought and continue to buy mortgages, sell securities, and retain the coveted government guarantee.

For years, the GSEs bought mortgages, packaged them together, and sold them off as securities to Wall Street. However, many were full of underperforming subprime mortgages, which borrowers later defaulted on as they couldn’t repay the loans. In 2008, with the collapse of the Lehman Brothers, federal regulators soon took both Fannie and Freddie under government conservatorship, bailing them out with taxpayer funds of roughly $187 billion.

With the financial crisis still fresh in 2011, Americans for Tax reform submitted testimony to the House Financial Services Committee recommending measures to encourage Congress to reform the housing market towards a more transparent, responsible, and taxpayer friendly environment.

Unfortunately, it’s been 10 years since the initial bailout, and still, the housing market has yet to see any real reform. 

After learning that the GSEs were in need of cash last week, Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling issued a press release lambasting the request:

 “After footing the bill for the costliest bailout in history, taxpayers are sick and tired of getting ripped off by Fannie and Freddie and then scolded by GSE apologists when they complain.  Americans deserve better.  That’s why Congress can and should enact comprehensive housing finance reform this year to create a sustainable housing system.

If the necessity for reform wasn’t clear enough, a stress test done by the Federal Housing Finance Agency this past summer found that if another economic downturn occurred, the two GSEs could require another bailout close to $100 billion dollars just to stay solvent.

With a Republican in the White House and GOP majorities in both chambers, the time for reform is now. Chairman Hensarling, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, and Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt have have all expressed support for housing finance reform, indicating that the efforts will hopefully have the momentum to materialize in the coming months. 

Photo Credit: Daniel Lobo


House Passes Rep. Roskam’s RESPECT Act to Curtail IRS Abuse

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Posted by Matthew J. Adams on Tuesday, October 31st, 2017, 12:31 PM PERMALINK

In a huge win for taxpayers last month, lawmakers dealt a blow to the IRS and their ability to rob business owners of their hard earned money.

Through a unanimous voice vote, members of the House passed Rep. Peter Roskam’s (R-IL) Clyde-Hirsch-Sowers RESPECT (Restraining Excessive Seizure of Property through the Exploitation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Tools) Act.

Named after small business owners who were subject to IRS abuses totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, the RESPECT Act works to curb the IRS’ power under structuring laws that permit them to target Americans for withdrawing or depositing cash amounts under a $10,000 threshold. While this number is quite arbitrary, it is a potent instrument that gives the IRS the power to raid the bank accounts of innocent Americans.

The aforementioned structuring laws are a byproduct of Bank Secrecy Act reporting requirements that, while good-intentioned in the hopes of fighting money laundering, give unprecedented power to the IRS if they suspect you of trying to evade their watchful eye.

This cruel practice has been further exacerbated by civil asset forfeiture laws that allow the IRS to do this to anyone without ever filing a criminal charge, circumventing due process.

One study shows that between FY 2005 and FY 2012, the IRS was able to seize $242 million in taxpayer assets through structuring laws alone.

Cases like these are much more common than one would think. Terry Dehko, the owner of a family run grocery store in Michigan woke up one morning in 2013 to see over $35,000 missing from the store’s bank account. Who were the culprits you may ask? Why the IRS of course, who seized their assets and accused Terry and his family of money laundering for simply making bank deposits under $10,000. Unfortunately, far too many Americans find themselves facing the same mistreatment as the Dehko’s did.

After the House vote, Rep. Roskam noted in a press release, “It’s clear to everyone involved that the IRS and DOJ abused their authority and took money from people who did nothing wrong. With today’s legislation, we’re making sure they can never do it again”.

While the bill is a monumental step forward in finally putting an end to rampant IRS cruelty under structuring laws, the bill has yet to become law, and it is now upon the Senate to take the final steps to ensure that cases like the Dehko’s are a thing of the past.

To that end, similar legislation such as the FAIR (Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration) Act has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and this may be that final step forward.

In this move to stop the IRS from looting taxpayers, Americans for Tax Reform applauds Rep. Roskam and his colleagues for working to end abusive practices against American taxpayers. 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


House Acts to Lessen Property Rights Abuse

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Posted by Matthew J. Adams on Tuesday, October 24th, 2017, 11:58 AM PERMALINK

Last month, members of the House made a bold move to thwart the Department of Justice’s abusive civil asset forfeiture program.

Three amendments were included in the passage of the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act that defund federal adoptive seizure policies.

Adoptive seizures, also known as the Equitable Sharing Program, exist under the federal civil asset forfeiture program, allowing local police departments who work with federal law enforcement in operations to claim a portion of funds or property seized during the process.

At first glance this seems harmless enough, however, under the policy anyone can have their property seized if they’re suspected of involvement in a crime, even if they’re never charged or convicted for said crime. This throws due process to the wind and opens the door for massive abuse. With that, under civil asset forfeiture seizures, law enforcement stole more from citizens than actual burglars did in 2015.  

This past July, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the reinstatement of the adoptive seizure policy, which was ended in 2015 by then Attorney General Eric Holder.

The amendment by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) makes it so funding under asset seizures adhere to the previous limits set by Holder.

With that, amendments by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) further build on that to prohibit the use of federal funds to execute Sessions’ July decree.

More than two dozen states have made efforts in recent years to limit or even outright ban civil asset forfeiture in their respective states, and these amendments represent one of the largest Congressional actions in recent years to reign in the program.

To a broader extent, the accompanying amendments to the appropriations bill not only limit the DOJ’s power under the program, but they coincide with passage of Rep. Peter Roskam’s (R-IL) Clyde-Hirsch-Sowers RESPECT Act that targets the IRS and their abusive practices against American taxpayers, made legal under the civil asset forfeiture program. 

With this in mind, one can expect to see further action from Congress taken against civil asset forfeiture in the coming months. Bills and amendments like these are common sense solutions that ensure bureaucratic agencies like the DOJ and IRS show taxpayers and citizens the respect they deserve.

Photo Credit: Gingher


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