Civil Forfeiture Strikes Again

Pop quiz ladies and gentlemen. How do civil forfeiture laws differ from outright theft? They don’t. Government agencies use civil forfeiture laws to confiscate property when they lack actual evidence of wrongdoing. When you think about it civil forfeiture laws are a wonderful scam. The very concept of innocent until proven guilty gets turned on its head since civil forfeiture mandates that you prove that your confiscated property wasn’t tied to a crime (which is really hard to do in a country where most people commit and average of three felonies a day). Traditionally civil forfeiture laws have been used by drug enforcement agents but the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) likes to get in on the action as well:

I’ve always paid my taxes and have never been arrested or charged with any crime in my life. I am a successful small-business man. But in January of this year, I woke up to find that my business’ entire bank account — more than $35,000 — had been wrongly seized.

Read the story. It’s a sad case of an independent business man having his assets seized by the IRS without being accused of any criminal activity. This brings up an interesting point that I’ve been discussing with people. Putting your assets in a bank is dangerous. While we often think of banks as secure strongholds the truth is they are willing to hand over anything they’re holding to government agents. That means the money sitting in your business account could disappear tomorrow because some IRS agent felt the need to harass you.

The more I think about it the more I’m beginning advocate the idea of holding cash assets in Bitcoin. Bitcoin has a very nice feature: the only way to transfer funds out of a wallet is if you possess the private key. A government agency can’t simply seize your Bitcoin unless they are able to obtain your private key, which can be protected from seizure in many ways. Instead of taking deposits to a bank and leaving the money in an account you transform that money into Bitcoin using any number of Bitcoin services. Once that’s done you then transfer your Bitcoin from the wallet created for you by the service to a wallet solely under your control. At that point surprise seizures become very difficult because government agents will have to obtain your private key from you to transfer your funds.

As the state become more greedy we’ll probably see more businesses, especially small ones, utilizing things like Bitcoin to keep their wealth from prying hands.