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Jewish World Review April 18, 2001 / 25 Nissan, 5761

Tax Tales by A. J. Cook

A.J. Cook
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Consumer Reports

IRS doesn't require warrant to seize visible assests -- A CAR sitting in the driveway is fair game for the Internal Revenue Service to seize.

This came as a surprise to Richard Rogers. He thought grabbing his cars without a warrant violated his constitutional rights.

Two IRS agents and a police sergeant went to Rogers's home to seize two vehicles parked in the driveway of his Northborough, Mass., home. He protested but finally gave the keys to the police officer, who was armed.

Two days later, Rogers went to the police station to file a stolen-vehicle report. But the police refused to accept it.

He then filed suit against the IRS collection officers and the police. The two issues were unreasonable seizure and denial of due process.

Were the cars in his driveway protected from seizure? No, said the court, because the vehicles were visible from the street. What a person exposes to the public has no constitutional protection. Had the cars been in a closed garage, they would have been protected, and the IRS would have needed a warrant.

Even if exposed, there are some safeguards. The agency must follow these procedures before seizing property: It must send a tax deficiency notice, wait 90 days for the taxpayer to appeal, assess the tax, send a payment demand notice and send an intent-to-levy notice.

The second part of the case involved denial of due process. Rogers said the police officers violated his constitutional right to due process by refusing to accept his stolen vehicle report. The court summarily dismissed this issue, saying the vehicles weren't stolen.

A.J. Cook, lawyer and accountant, is counsel with the law firm of Pietrangelo Cook PLC. Comment by clicking here.


04/10/01:IRS drills hole in dentist's claim
03/29/01: How to avoid late tax payment penalties
03/23/01: To give is divine, but you'd better have a good appraisal
03/06/01: Home improvements as medical deductions?
02/14/01: Distinguishing income from receipts confuses
02/07/01: IRS sank its teeth into hunters' expenses
01/30/01: 'Match game' could mean big bucks for IRS
01/22/00: Getting the address right

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