Today, the House of Representatives voted 415-0 to unanimously pass the "Clyde-Hirsch-Sowers-RESPECT Act" to rein in IRS asset forfeiture abuse in structuring cases. The bill, introduced by U.S. Representatives Peter J. Roskam (R-IL), Chairman of the Ways & Means Subcommittee on Oversight, and Joseph Crowley (D-NY), is named for Andrew Clyde; Jeffrey, Richard, and Mitch Hirsch; and Randy Sowers -- all small business owners victimized by the IRS.
Chairman Roskam issued the following statement:
"Today we took a big step toward delivering justice for victims of IRS abuse. 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. I want to thank the Clyde, Hirsch, Sowers, and Taylor families for their bravery and willingness to share their stories in the hopes of preventing future injustice. I appreciate the support of Ranking Member John Lewis and Congressman Joe Crowley on this bipartisan bill. I'm glad we can finally put this ugly chapter to rest."
Rep. Crowley issued the following statement:
"Civil asset forfeiture might have started out as a way to combat criminal activity but it has morphed into a complicated process that unfairly entangles innocent people. There is no question that the laws were deeply flawed and the process was riddled with abuse. I was proud to work with Congressman Roskam on this legislation, and I'm pleased that we are one step closer to it becoming a reality."
U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have introduced companion legislation and expect the upper chamber to pass the measure in short order.
In May, Chairman Roskam's Ways & Means Oversight Subcommittee held a hearing on Protecting Small Businesses From IRS Abuse. Both Republicans and Democrats expressed outrage over the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Department of Justice (DOJ)'s actions to seize the bank accounts of law-abiding American citizens. Watch Chairman Roskam's opening statement here and read the remarks here.
In June, under intense pressure from Congress, the IRS finally agreed to send letters to everyone from whom it had seized assets based on allegations of "structuring" cash deposits. These people, who had done nothing wrong, can finally get some or all of their money back.
Randy Sowers, a Maryland dairy farmer who testified at the May hearing, finally got his money back in July as a result of the Subcommittee's work.