What Can The IRS Seize?

Scott Huckleberry

Government tax administrators routinely exceed their authority to seize property. The Internal Revenue Code specifically outlines WHO is authorized to seize property, WHAT property is actually subject to seizure, and HOW to proceed with a seizure.

Section 7321 if the IR Code describes what property the IRS is authorized to seize. It States:

Any property subject to forfeiture ... may be seized by the secretary.

Note that the authorization is limited, and applies only to the property subject to forfeiture. Now isn't that interesting! The reader should immediately ask the question: what property is subject to forfeiture, and what property is not?

Sections 7301 through 7304 of the IR Code will answer this question. It places limitations on the IRS by authorizing the seizure of certain specific items only. The "property subject to forfeiture" is limited to articles such as those that are subject to the tax on alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, the raw materials and equipment used to manufacture them, packaging materials, and vehicles used to transport them. The few other articles include counterfeit stamps, fraudulent bonds, fraudulent permits, etc. You should immediately notice that in each case the only things subject to forfeiture are related to items on which an excise tax is imposed. The IRS is NOT AUTHORIZED to seize ANYTHING else.

IR Code Section 7608(b)(1) and 7608(2)(C), respectively state:

Any criminal investigator...is, in the performance of his duties, authorized to perform the functions described in paragraph (2)."

Paragraph (2)(C):

to make seizures of property subject to forfeiture under the internal revenue laws.

Again, notice the limitation. Then, IR Code Section 6335(a) states:

...after seizure of [that] property, notice in writing shall be given ... to the owner of the property ...

The notice is sent after the seizure but interestingly enough, IR Code Section 6502(b) states that:

The date on which a levy on property or the rights to property is made shall be the date on which the notice of seizure ... is given."

According to law, levy can be made only when the property to be levied on is possessed by the U.S. Government, such as unpaid wages and salaries of U.S. employees (6331(a)) or property that has been seized (6502(b)). IRS personnel intentionally deceive financial institutions and employers into thinking that levies have been made when no seizures have taken place. Since the IRS cannot lawfully seize property to force payment of income tax (because it is a voluntary tax), what can they do to enforce payment of an assessment?

If the IRS claims that an income tax is owed, thus creating a tax lien, IR Code Section 7403 provides that the IRS may initiate a civil action in a U.S. District court to enforce the lien by obtaining a money judgement against the delinquent "taxpayer". Enforcement of any judgement would be executed by law enforcement personnel such as a sheriff or his deputies, not IRS personnel. Under no circumstances does the IRS have any authority to seize any property for any income tax claim! Except for taxable subject to forfeiture for non payment of the the U.S. excise tax, the attachments and seizures of property for enforcement of money judgements from court of law are governed by state law, not the U.S. Code.

Many individuals have received correspondence from IRS agents that appear to be liens or judgements. Don't be confused by these documents. No "piece of paper" from an administrator can adjudicate the ultimate rights of all parties concerned. That agent may send you a document with a formidable title such as "lien and judgement", but remember that titles have no legal effect. Ask yourself; lien against what?; judgement by whom? Those determinations can only be made by a court of law, not some revenue officer or collection agent.

The presumption of liability, and the ensuing assessment by a revenue officer is only a quasi judicial conclusion. That fancy term describes an action by a public administrative officer who has drawn a conclusion upon which to base future action. The conclusion however, has no force of law because it did not come from a court of law. If the revenue officer wants to legally compel you to pay an income tax, he must take you into a court of law and sue you. Action such as this is not only time consuming and costly, but quite often ineffective against the individual who is aware of his constitutional rights and the applicable laws. Revenue agents know they have no authority to make an individual liable for income tax and they can not make anyone pay a tax. They can however, trick you into volunteering!

Administrative officers generally trick individuals into giving them the jurisdiction. They do this by requesting that you give them information. If you're informed enough to know they have no authority, and you ask them to show you the alleged authority they are relying on to ask for the information, they will either misapply a section of the code to deceive you, or they will ignore your question altogether.

If they strike out with their request for information, their second option may be to direct you to appeal to a "tax court". This is where many individuals are fooled. A tax court you see, is not a court of law. The fact that the "United States Tax Court" is merely a tax appeal board, is stated in the footnotes of IR Code Section 7441, which states:

The Board of Tax Appeals shall be continued as an independent agency in the Executive Branch of the Government, and shall be known as the Tax Court.

The name was changed to deceive the public and cause them to think it was part of the judicial branch of government, when in fact it was not.

It has no more authority to compel payment of a tax than an administrative officer, but just as you can acknowledge his authority by voluntarily submitting information, you can also acknowledge the authority of the "Tax Court" by making an appeal to it. When you appeal to this so-called "court", you are giving it permission to make any decision it wants. You are "authorizing" it to adjudicate. You are giving it authority over you that it otherwise would not have. By appealing to it, you are voluntarily admitting (by implication) that an underlying liability already exists. Then the administrative body can end up with the administrative ruling that it wanted in the first place.

Even then, they could not force you to pay anything, and they would not have authority to seize anything, but ... with such a ruling, based upon your voluntary compliance, the tax administrators could move the action into a real court of law. Don't make the mistake of voluntarily giving them that authority.

If you know you're not liable for income tax, and you fully understand the process of deception that state and federal governments use to trick you into voluntarily giving up your rights, you will neither submit information, nor appeal to a so-called "tax court". If you've managed to get this far then you're to be commended for your knowledge, dedication, and guts, but the best is yet to come.

The tax administrator, realizing that because of your knowledge you are now a threat to "the system", may actually try something blatantly illegal. A recent case in Maryland serves as a good example. After making exorbitant income tax claims against an individual citizen and issuing the customary demands for payment of those exorbitant claims, the agents of the tax collector recorded one of their administrative lien forms in the record office of the county. The form which is merely signed by an employee of the tax department with no certification of its accuracy, is recorded to give public notice that there is a tax claim against the individual for the stated amount. The recorded forms bear the deceptive type-written title, "LIEN AND JUDGEMENT FOR UNPAID TAX", despite the fact that there has never been any judgement from any court of law. There was never any hearing in any court nor were there any papers served or suit filed against the citizen.

When the individual did not volunteer to pay the exorbitant tax claim, the tax collector's attorney petitioned the circuit court of the county to issue an order for sale of the individual's property. The Clerk of that court then issued a "writ of execution" to the county sheriff directing him to attach and sell the individual's house. Clerks obviously, can not render judgements either. The writ contained the phrase:

You are hereby directed to levy upon the property of the judgement debtor to satisfy a money judgement.

A judgement debtor is one who owes an unpaid money judgement. Needless to say, no money judgement had ever been made by any court of law. Black's law dictionary defines a money judgement as a final order, decree, or judgement of a court, in which a defendant (one who has the opportunity to face his accusers and defend his/herself) is "required" to pay a sum of money, as opposed to a decree, or judgement of equity, in which the court orders some other type of relief.

In order for due process to occur, a suit must be filed, the defendant must be served, given time to prepare a defense, examine any evidence against him, and be given the opportunity for a hearing. Only then can a final judgement, in the form of a "money judgement", be made against him.

The dedicated individual in Maryland confronted the clerk and the sheriff with the fact that there was no money judgement and challenged the validity of the Writ of Execution. In the hearing on this challenge, the judge agreed with the individual and told the attorney for the state that there was no way he could sell the individual's property without a "money judgement", and, that the document bearing the printed title: "Notice of Lien and Judgement", that the comptroller recorded had no force of law to compel sale of property.

The judge however, proceeded to put on quite a show on behalf of the Comptroller by attempting to undermine the confidence of the individual. He made reference to the fact that he would not "set aside the lien", (the administrative claim) which he was not even asked to do since it was irrelevant, and in a major attempt to deceive the individual he stated:

I will order the sale of the property.

To understand the legal trickery behind this statement one has only to ask the question: when will you order it to be sold? The judge knowingly used future tense. He did not say "I hereby order" or "I am ordering". He said "I will order" which means that at some time in the future he may order, or he may not, depending on whether that issue is ever brought before him. The judge knew full well the effect that such a statement was intended to have on the individual. It was a veiled threat designed to scare him into paying up voluntarily, or else.

In the case of this individual, their scheme didn't work. The auction was called off by the state just 2 hours prior to when the sale was to take place. Needless to say the judge wouldn't dare to order a sale of the citizen's property when there was no money judgement of which to base a sale. You can see the lengths to which the state went to bluff this individual.

It could be said that fear and ignorance are the worst enemies you can have, don't be stampeded by it. Even if the revenuers, and those conspiring with them, after proper notification from you hold a shame sale of your property, don't give it up -- attack with a proper court action. Know your constitutional rights, and don't voluntarily give them up. Obtain a copy of the laws regarding income tax, and take time to study the pertinent sections so that you can't be misled.

[Reprinted from `CBA Bulletin', July 1989; from `REASONABLE ACTION']

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Last revision: August 14, 2009 08:07 AM
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