A pair of humble Maryland dairy farmers are taking on the IRS, and now some members of Congress have joined the fight.
Members of the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee sent a letter Wednesday to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew calling on the IRS to give back money the agency wrongly seized from two Maryland dairy farmers.
The IRS forfeited, or took ownership of, Randy and Karen Sowers’ $29,500 based on highly criticized structuring laws. These laws make it a crime to make multiple cash deposits just under $10,000.
The laws were originally intended to catch money launderers making small deposits to avoid government detection but have since been abused.
Randy said his wife made the deposits under $10,000 because the bank teller told her it would require less paperwork.
“We didn’t do anything wrong, but the IRS took our money anyway,” Randy said in a statement. “I hope the IRS does the same for everyone they took money from, and not just for me and Karen.”
A North Carolina convenience store owner with the same structuring violation had his $100,000 returned by the IRS. The Sowers are hoping for the same fate.
“We all learn in kindergarten: If you’ve taken something that doesn’t belong to you, give it back,” Robert Everett Johnson, a lawyer for the Institute for Justice, which represents the Sowers, said in a statement. “The public, Congress, everyone understands that what happened to Randy and Karen was wrong. The question is, will the IRS do the right thing and give the money back?”