Congressman Andy Harris Introduces Bill to Protect Small Businesses from Arcane Banking Law

WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Andy Harris, M.D. introduced The Small Business Deposit Relief Act of 2013 (H.R. 1184) that would protect small businesses and farm families from an arcane banking law, known as structuring, that punishes someone for making repeated cash deposits under $10,000. Many are already aware that depositing or withdrawing sums over $10,000 results in a Currency Transaction Report (CTR) being filed by a financial institution with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). But, few know that repeated deposits under $10,000 may trigger a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) and is illegal. When structuring is alleged, 100% of the cash deposits in question can be seized and those involved can face up to five years in jail.

There have been 14 documented cases in Maryland of the IRS seizing bank accounts of small businesses who did this to avoid the $10,000 threshold. One in 2011 involved a farm family who operates produce stands on the Eastern Shore. IRS agents showed up at their door to ask questions about their business, without an attorney present, then told them the IRS had seized their cash deposits which totaled $90,000. The investigators later reviewed years of tax returns and business records finding no evidence of criminal activity or tax evasion. The family ended up settling out of court to avoid the high cost of a trial and agreed to a civil forfeiture instead of a criminal fine or jail time.

Under the current law, structuring is being treated the same as organized crime and drug dealing which is wrong. There is no leeway for those who commit structuring which is why Congressman Harris introduced The Small Business Deposit Relief Act of 2013. The bill would limit any criminal and civil penalties for structuring when there is no other crime being committed. It also includes no jail time for first time offenders and limits the amount that can be seized to no more than 10% of the cash deposits in question.

The Maryland Farm Bureau strongly supports this legislation because it would protect farm families all across Maryland from having their assets taken by an unnecessary law.

“This arcane banking law needs to be revised before more small businesses and farm families are hurt by it,” said Congressman Andy Harris. “They are being penalized for doing nothing other than going about their regular business practices. These are hardworking taxpayers who want to do the best by their families and communities, and they are being punished for it. All Maryland taxpayers ask for is a government that is accountable and responsible. We must amend this law because it is making criminals out of hardworking small business owners who have done nothing wrong.”

“I applaud Congressman Harris’ efforts to help Maryland farmers who have been unnecessarily caught up with this law,” said Patricia Langenfelder, President of the Maryland Farm Bureau. “There is no reason to confiscate the savings of hardworking farmers when they have not done anything wrong. We must change this law so more farm families are not punished. Congressman Harris is a true champion of the Maryland farm community, and I look forward to working with him to get this bill passed.”

 

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