Republican state attorneys general appear poised to challenge the constitutionality of a proposal allowing the federal government to collect data on bank accounts, regardless of the number of accounts accessible to espionage.
“Here is the point, whether it is $ 600 or $ 10,000, it does not avoid the problem of being an unlawful invasion of privacy and a violation of illegal searches and seizures by the government,” the attorney general said. from Georgia, Chris Carr, at FOX Business.
President Biden and Congressional Democrats initially backed a proposal to require banks to turn over accounts receivable information to the Internal Revenue Service for any deposit or withdrawal of $ 600. This week, Democrats cut back on the proposal to require financial institutions to report annually on transactions over $ 10,000.
The Democrats’ stated goal for this provision is to end tax evasion. The proposal is part of the Democrats’ controversial $ 3.5 trillion spending bill.
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Carr was the spearhead of a letter signed by 19 other GOP attorneys general to Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
“The federal government to search almost all American bank accounts without cause, or even suspicion, is unacceptable, illegal and contrary to well-founded constitutional principles against illegal searches and seizures,” says October 15 letter, sent before the recent adjustment . to the $ 600 to $ 10,000 proposal.
The letter says it could require banks to provide information to consumers on “day-to-day transactions such as paying rent, paying for groceries and other transactions that are part of the daily lives of Americans who don’t. have done nothing wrong “.
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The letter goes on to say that it would also harm consumers.
“If this illegal program were allowed to go ahead, banks would likely be forced to pass the costs in the form of fees or higher interest rates on to customers who are already in trouble,” the letter said. “Such additional costs would only serve to increase the number of people who do not have access to banking services.”
Legal challenges could be direct or indirect, Carr said.
“If it goes one way or another, we as state attorneys general will use all the tools at our disposal,” he said.
The letter does not directly threaten state litigation. Carr said the MAs could indirectly dispute with amicus briefs by assisting plaintiffs, such as an individual consumer or a financial institution. But, Carr said, it could also mean direct litigation with the states as plaintiffs.
âThe standing position is something that we are looking at,â Carr said. “We maintain that it is our duty to defend the interests and constitutional rights of the people of our states.”
The Treasury Department estimates that tax evasion by the richest 1% of Americans exceeds $ 160 billion a year.
“Today’s new proposal reflects the administration’s strong belief that we should target those at the top of the income scale who are not paying the taxes they owe, while protecting workers. Americans by setting the bank account threshold at $ 10,000 and granting an exemption for employees like teachers and firefighters, âYellen said in a statement.
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But a fishing expedition is no way to find tax evaders, Carr argues.
âIf someone breaks tax laws, provide evidence or find a probable cause for prosecution,â Carr said. âDon’t just look at anyone with a bank account and assume they’re cheating and making banks be data collectors for the government. That’s what the Constitution protects against.â