The United States is a nation of laws and in a nation of laws everybody is equal under the law! If I had a dollar for every time somebody has said that to me, I’d own my own private sovereign island. But I don’t receive a dollar for every time somebody says that to me and everybody isn’t equal under the law here in the United States. If you’re an employee of the government, you have some special legal privileges. For example, if you work for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you can confiscate somebody’s property even if they haven’t been found guilty of a crime:
Oh Suk Kwon, who left South Korea for America in 1976, served as a fleet mechanic in the U.S. Army. After four years in the military, decades of working in an electrical plant and as an auto mechanic, after raising the kids and seeing them off to their adult lives, Kwon finally bought a gas station in Ellicott City in 2007. It meant everything to him.
Just a few years after he opened it, zealous government investigators fishing for criminals seized all of the station’s money on a hunch — and wiped the family out.
No, they weren’t money launderers or terrorists or mobsters or tax evaders. The government found no evidence of criminal activity.
But after the investigation ended, after the gas station went under, and Kwon’s wife died amid the stress of it all, after he moved from his neighborhood in shame and the Internal Revenue Service changed its policy so no other small business would get steamrolled this way — the agency won’t give Kwon his money back.
That’s $59,117.47 the IRS is holding on to.
I’ve mentioned the IRS’s use of laws against structuring, breaking up single deposits greater than $10,000 into multiple deposits under $10,000, to attack small businesses. Structuring laws were supposedly passed to thwart tax evaders but most individuals accused of structuring were doing it because a bank teller told them that if they didn’t break up their large deposits, they would have to fill out a bunch of additional paperwork. In other words, they were accused of a crime they didn’t even know existed.
But the IRS hasn’t given a shit about intent. The letter of the law has allowed the agency to confiscate money from small businesses (large businesses can afford a dedicated legal team and are therefore more of a hassle for the IRS to go after) so it has done exactly that. When it is later revealed that the accused individual was committing structuring because they were unaware of the law and were even advised to do so by their bank teller, the IRS points to the letter of the law to avoid having to give the back.
If everybody was equal under the law, the people could steal money from the IRS just as it steals money from them. But everybody isn’t equal under the law. The IRS and other government bodies can steal from you but you cannot steal from them.