” Lyndon McLellan has spent more than a decade running L&M Convenience Mart, a gas station, restaurant and convenience store in rural Fairmont, North Carolina. Then, almost one year ago, agents from the IRS came to the store and announced that they had seized his entire bank account, totaling more than $107,000.
Lyndon did nothing wrong, and the IRS has never alleged that he committed a crime—much less charged him with one. Despite this, in December 2014, the IRS and Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a civil forfeiture complaint in federal court, which, if successful, would allow them to keep Lyndon’s money permanently. The DOJ’s actions came months after the IRS announced a formal policy change prohibiting the agency from using civil forfeiture to take money from law-abiding citizens like Lyndon.
Yesterday, the Institute for Justice (IJ), a national public interest law firm leading the fight to end civil forfeiture, filed court documents contesting the IRS’s forfeiture of Lyndon’s money.
“ This case demonstrates that the federal government’s recent reforms are riddled with loopholes and exceptions and fundamentally fail to protect Americans’ basic rights,” said Institute for Justice Attorney Robert Everett Johnson, who represents Lyndon. “No American should have his property taken by the government without first being convicted of a crime.”
In February 2015, during a hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives Ways & Means Oversight Subcommittee, North Carolina Congressman George Holding told IRS Commissioner John Koskinen that he had reviewed Lyndon’s case—without specifically naming it—and that there was no allegation of the kind of illegal activity required by the IRS’s new policy. The IRS Commissioner responded, “If that cases exists, then it’s not following the policy.” “