Siouxland woman fights IRS for $33,000 and wins - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Siouxland woman fights IRS for $33,000 and wins

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SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa (KTIV) -

Carole Hinders learned the Internal Revenue Service took the entire contents of her restaurant's checking account in the time between breakfast with her grandchildren and her morning crossword puzzle.

She hadn't been charged with a crime, but the two IRS agents who stood at her front door in May of 2013 said they'd already seized her nearly $33,000 from her bank.

"They started to leave, and I kind of freaked out. I said, 'How am I supposed to pay my bills? How am I supposed to pay my people?' And they go, 'We don't know.'"

Hinders owned and operated Mrs. Lady's Mexican Restaurant in Arnold's Park, Iowa for 38 years. The restaurant didn't accept credit or debit cards.

Hinders deposited all of the cash and checks at the same bank the entire time she was open. When cash deposits exceed $10,000, banks are required to report the deposit to the federal government, but Hinders' deposits never exceeded that amount.

"What the IRS said is that because she deposited less than $10,000 frequently, they suspected that she might be trying to evade that reporting requirement," Larry Salzman, Hinder's Attorney with the Institute For Justice said.

Suddenly, Hinders was running a restaurant without any money to pay her employees.

She said the only way they got through was because of the Memorial Day weekend rush in the Iowa Great Lakes.

"The reason that they don't have to read you your rights, or advise you that you can have a lawyer, or do any of the things that the constitution is supposed to provide for us, is that they don't charge the person with the crime, they charge your money with the crime," Hinders said.

Hinders teamed up with the Institute For Justice out of Arlington, Virginia. The public interest law firm represented her for free, because they're currently advocating to get the US forfeiture laws changed so these cases don't happen.

Salzman, who works for the Institute For Justice, says the forfeiture laws were originally written for drug lords, terrorists, and serious criminals.

Hinders said just hours after the IRS took her deposition, they dropped the case.

Hinders says that after a year and a half of fighting the IRS, while still running her restaurant, it's not about the money anymore. It's about the principle.

"They came in and they took my money. Now, they're giving it back after a year and a half, but there's nothing happening to them," Hinders said.

Hinders says most in her place don't have enough money or resources to fight for their money, so they walk away and close their businesses.

She says she hopes her story will help change the forfeiture laws responsible for good.

Mrs. Lady's is now closed, but not because of the IRS seizure of Hinders' bank account. She was preparing to sell her business months before the money was taken.

Salzman says the Institute For Justice is still working on the issue, and that Congress may consider several proposals to change the forfeiture laws responsible for Hinders' case.

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