Arlington, Va.—The IRS confiscated the entire bank accounts of two small businesses that did nothing illegal. Now those business owners are asking the government to give them their money back.
Khalid (“Ken”) Quran, a North Carolina convenience store owner, and Randy Sowers, a Maryland dairy farmer, both work hard at their jobs, putting in long hours seven days a week. They both are honest, law-abiding citizens. And they both had their bank accounts taken by the IRS under the civil forfeiture laws.
The IRS took Ken’s bank account because he withdrew money from the bank in amounts under $10,000. In Randy’s case, it was because he made deposits of under $10,000. In both cases, the IRS invoked so-called “structuring” laws, laws that were intended to target criminals evading bank reporting laws but have been frequently applied against innocent small business owners guilty of nothing more than doing business largely in cash.
This video shows how Ken Quran’s account was seized by the IRS:
Randy Sowers talks about structuring:
Media backgrounder on this issue:
The IRS announced in the fall of 2014 that it will no longer go after the bank accounts of honest entrepreneurs like Ken and Randy, but will limit its use of structuring laws to go after real criminals. But that policy change comes too late for Ken and Randy, who had their money taken before the change was announced.
Ken said, “I feel like the United States government stole my money. They have no right to take my money. I did nothing wrong.”
Randy said, “Once the IRS came to my farm and found out why I was making these deposits and that they were legitimately earned, that should have been the end of it. They should give us our money back.”
Now, Ken and Randy are petitioning the government to get their money back. The papers they filed today with the IRS are called petitions for “remission or mitigation,” and they are requests for voluntary relief from the executive branch—akin to a pardon petition. Their claim is clear: Nobody should have their bank account taken just because they deposited or withdrew their own money in the “wrong” amounts. The government recognized this was wrong when it announced its policy change; now the government should do the right thing and give Ken and Randy’s money back.
“Our message to the IRS is simple: If you’ve taken something that doesn’t belong to you, give it back,” said Robert Everett Johnson, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, which represents Ken and Randy.
High-quality photos and videos of Ken and Randy available at: