I know what you’re thinking, this is obviously a joke right? Well, welcome to the Twilight Zone my friends, because this story is about to get seriously weird.
According to the BBC, “A town in Germany has made headlines for seizing a family’s dog over unpaid taxes – and then selling it on eBay. German media report that officials in Ahlen initially wanted to seize the wheelchair of a disabled resident as the most valuable item on the premises. Instead, they settled on a pedigree pug bitch named Edda. One of the officials then listed the dog on eBay at an apparent bargain price of €750 – half of what its new owner expected to pay.”
So imagine coming home after a long day of work, looking for your pooch, and then finding a letter on your door saying that because of owed taxes, the local government came into your house, stole your dog, and then sold it on eBay to teach you a lesson.
Now I know what you’re thinking, this can’t happen in the United States right? Wrong.
Small businesses are typically the victims of IRS seizures, also known as a levy. In this situation, the IRS will take your private property in order to pay back taxes. This creates a fundamental issue in regards in regards to property rights because it brings about a very elementary question- who owns your property, to begin with, you or the government?
If you owe them money, why on earth would they think it was a good idea to take what you own and sell it? Did your car offend the IRS? Was the IRS on your deed when you purchased your home? It almost seems like the government owns all our stuff and we’re just renting it out to put it simply.
First, they’ll issue a notice saying that refusal or inability to pay back what is owed to the federal government will result in loss of your business.
According to Chron.com, “If you have personal liability for the business taxes — if you operate as a sole proprietorship, for example — the IRS can garnish your wages, retirement payments and Social Security benefits to pay the tax debt if necessary.”
The IRS can seize your bank accounts, investment accounts and brokerage accounts to satisfy your back taxes. If you own a business, it can be taken. Personal property like cars, boats, and houses are among the last assets to be seized. Hundreds of thousands of Americans each year either mess up intentionally or fall into a bad luck streak and simply fall prey to the IRS because they can’t afford to go toe to toe with this massive system. Then again why fight? Many Americans just think its better to just let the IRS take their stuff, and for the feds.
It is easier and more cost-effective for the IRS to seize liquid assets rather than market and auction off business equipment or a house. While this may seem drastic, especially if a business had a bad season or an owner made poor financial decisions, at a minimum at least you are getting a thirty-day warning and they won’t take your dog.
The German’s, however, don’t play around, even for the most ridiculous of taxes. In the case of Edda the pug, she wasn’t seized because her owner had lapsed income taxes. She was kidnapped by local government because she didn’t pay a local dog tax. Take that in and read it one more time, a dog tax.
“Upon calling the number listed in the advert” the article continues, “she [the dog’s owner] spoke to an employee of Ahlen’s administration, who explained that the dog had been seized because the owner owed the city money – including for unpaid dog tax.”
There were other problems regarding the victim and the city, what was most surprising was that the city claimed they didn’t even want the dog: they wanted the owner’s disabled husband’s wheelchair. (As if that makes the story any better.)
The moral of the story is that through taxation, you don’t really own anything. From property taxes to car taxes and dog taxes, in the eyes of the state, we are all just borrowing things. Like disgruntled children, they can take our things from us for whatever reason they can conjure up.