Dairy Farmer to IRS: “Give Me my Money Back”

The Washington Post has a fascinating story on how the IRS has seized the bank account of a Maryland dairy farmer and refuses to give the money back, even though he hasn’t been charged with any criminal activity.

From the Post:

Randy Sowers always expected the government to show up one day and ask where all the cash he was depositing at his bank came from. He thought he had the right answer: from his business selling eggs and milk at farmers markets.

But under a federal law designed to target money laundering, Sowers and his Maryland dairy farm lost a big chunk of that income — $29,500 — to the government. Three years later, he hasn’t gotten any of it back and almost certainly never will. In the court of public opinion, however, South Mountain Creamery has become a potent symbol for the movement against civil asset forfeiture.

Sowers’s case is perfect for libertarians trying to stir up opposition to government seizures of cash. It appeals to conservatives, liberals and anyone who likes baby cows.

Sowers is a high-school-educated entrepreneur who describes himself as inspired by God to deliver local dairy products to busy locavores. The chickens he and his wife, Karen, raise are cage-free, their cows grass-fed, their milk pumped into glass jugs. Nestled in the farmland of Frederick County, Md., South Mountain has fans in both Washington and Baltimore. …

Sowers was not accused of money laundering or attempting to hide illegal profits. Federal agents who showed up at his farm in February 2012 told him that they thought he was an honest businessman. But he had run afoul of federal law requiring banks to report deposits of more than $10,000 and making it a crime to evade the reporting requirement by “structuring” cash into smaller amounts. …

Based on Freedom of Information Act requests, the libertarian Institute for Justice has reported that the Internal Revenue Service has seized almost a quarter-billion dollars in such cases from 2005 to 2012, about half of which was never returned. A third of those cases, like the Sowers case, did not involve allegations of criminal activity beyond the structured deposits themselves.

Read the full story of the IRS’s overreach at the Washington Post.