The Constitution guarantees that everyone is entitled to due process of law. This means that before the government can punish you for anything, you are entitled to a court hearing and a trial, and at the very least, they have to tell you what’s going on.
Apparently, the Constitution doesn’t apply to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the tax-collecting agency that can take money straight out of your bank account whenever it decides you’ve violated its rules.
That’s what happened to Tarik “Terry” Dekho, who owns a small supermarket called Schott’s in Fraser, Mich.
But he decided to fight back. On Sept. 25, Dekho sued the IRS.
“If I did anything wrong, I’d be scared,” Dekho told the Detroit Free Press. “I’m not scared because I didn’t do anything wrong.”
In January, the IRS dipped into his store’s bank account and grabbed $35,000, sticking it directly in government coffers. Dehko (pictured) was not accused of cheating on his taxes or committing a crime. The IRS just thought that his account looked suspicious.
Dekho, a 69-year-old native of Bagdhad, Iraq, who has resided in the U.S. since 1970 and owned the Schott’s store since 1978, was making repeated deposits of just under $10,000 into the account.
Under IRS rules, stemming from the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, all cash transactions over $10,000 must be reported to the government. The rules were designed to make it harder for criminals to launder large amounts of money.
Dekho made repeated deposits in the $9,000 range, according to his lawyer, Larry Salzman of the Institute for Justice, a non-profit civil liberties law firm in Virginia. The Institute describes its main areas of litigation as “private property, economic liberty, free speech and school choice.”
Under a process known as “civil forfeiture,” which allows the government to seize cash and property earned through criminal means, the IRS wiped out Dekho’s bank account because they said he was “structuring,” which means deliberately skirting the laws by making deposits just under $10,000.
But Dekho says that his insurance company won’t cover him for more than $10,000, so he never keeps that much cash around.
“Last year alone, the government took in more than four billion dollars in forfeiture money,” said Salzman. “Thankfully, the Dehkos are prepared to go all the way to the Supreme Court if that’s what it takes to vindicate the right to private property for Americans everywhere.”