The Internal Revenue Service began a monthlong inquiry last week into Hagerstown-area businesses in an effort to expose money laundering for drug dealers.
IRS teams are checking the records of about 25 businesses to make sure they are properly reporting cash sales of more than $10,000, said H. J. Hightower, IRS district director for Maryland and Washington. The teams are concentrating on businesses with large cash sales, such as car and boat dealerships and antique and jewelry stores, she said.
Under federal law, cash sales of more than $10,000 must be reported within 15 days. Failure to report could mean a penalty of up to $100,000 for each transaction and criminal fines and penalties.
Domenic J. LaPonzina, an IRS spokesman, said banks are required to report deposits of more than $10,000, just as businesses are required to report similarly large sales. When the two figures widely disagree, it sends the IRS a signal that something is wrong.