|TRAFICANT, James A., Jr.,|
Wednesday, December 3, 1997
TRAFICANT SAYS IRS PLAN TO TIGHTEN SEIZURE PROCESS FALLS FAR SHORT
Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant, Jr. (D--OH) said today that the Internal Revenue Service's newly announced property seizure procedures fall far short of what is needed to protect taxpayers. "It's a baby step forward and woefully inadequate," said Traficant, who has led the effort in Congress to curb IRS abuses. "I intend to continue to push for the adoption of legislation requiring the IRS to obtain judicial consent before seizing any taxpayer property or assets."
Under the new procedures, which took effect last week, IRS seizures for nonpayment of taxes must now be approved by the senior collection officer in the district in which the case arises. And the district director, the top IRS official in the area, must clear seizure of a taxpayer's residence, its contents or any perishable goods. In the past, a more junior official could approve most seizures.
According to Traficant, the new procedures don't address a fundamental problem with the entire seizure process -- the fact that the IRS does not have to answer to any other authority, other than itself, when seizing property. "No matter how much the IRS tightens up its procedures, you still have a situation where the fox is guarding the henhouse," said Traficant. "The only way to fully protect the taxpayer from unwarranted seizures is to have an objective entity overseeing the process. The IRS should be required to get a judge's consent," added Traficant.
Since coming to Congress in 1985 Traficant has championed the cause of IRS reform. Over the past decade he been able to have enacted into law several taxpayer rights provisions, including a measure increasing the penalty for IRS agent misconduct from $100,000 to $1 million. The IRS reform bill approved by the House last month includes a provision authored by Traficant shifting the burden of proof in a civil tax case from a taxpayer to the IRS.
One of Traficant's pet proposals that was left out of the House-passed IRS reform bill last month is a provision requiring the IRS to get the consent of a federal judge before seizing taxpayer property and assets. "It is simply un-American that the IRS has the ability to unilaterally seize assets without any type of judicial oversight or approval," asserted Traficant. "Requiring judicial consent would go a long way toward ending the abuses of innocent taxpayers by overzealous, and sometimes unlawful, IRS agents."
Traficant said today that he will push in 1998 for the House to include his judicial consent provision in the IRS reform bill before it is sent to the President. The Senate has not voted on its IRS reform bill. It is expected to consider IRS reform legislation in the spring.2009