Legislators are creating solutions for a persisting problem: civil asset forfeiture. This practice jeopardizes the financial security of law-abiding citizens by allowing law enforcement to confiscate their property. Americans for Tax Reform joins six other conservative organizations in a coalition letter that addresses the problem of civil asset forfeiture:
“Civil forfeiture is a process that allows property to be seized and forfeited without ever charging, much less convicting, its owner of a crime. Often, these seizures are justified by mere suspicion with little, if any, actual evidence tying property or currency to an illicit act. At this point, property owners must navigate a tortuous, skewed legal landscape that requires them to prove, in essence, their own innocence.”
In opposition to this policy, Americans for Tax Reform supports current efforts moving through the House of Representatives such as the DUE PROCESS Act and RESPECT Act. These proposals would increase the system’s transparency and raise the burden of proof to a “clear and convincing” standard, and make it harder for the IRS to steal money from innocent people’s bank accounts.
Authored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the DUE PROCESS Act is especially keen on protecting accused citizens. The bill focuses on the government’s responsibility to prove wrong doing and enforces recent policy changes at the Internal Revenue Service that would restrict their ability to seize assets without clear evidence.
The Respect Act, introduced by Rep. Pete Roscam (R-Ill.) speeds up the recovery process for assets taken when they have no relation to the allegations.
Ultimately, the federal government should be working towards criminal asset forfeiture procedures to protect Americans that have not been convicted of, or even charged with, any crime.
The legislation moving through Congress does not serve as a final solution, but certainly takes a step in the right direction. ATR encourages lawmakers to support these bills and other smart-on-crime approaches that defend our constitutional values by improving or enhancing existing statutes, while also saving money.
Read the full letter here