#Obamacare chronicles: People refusing to pay the fine?

February 26, 2015
"Revenge of the angry mob"

“Revenge of the angry mob”

President Jefferson once famously said:

“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”

And maybe that “good thing” has started?

Taxpayers are already telling their accountants they plan to stiff the IRS on the Obamacare tax, saying they figure the chances the agency comes after them for a few hundred bucks are pretty slim, and it makes sense to take the risk.

Still other taxpayers are recoiling when they find out they owe far more than the $95 minimum penalty for not having insurance in 2014, said Christopher Wittich, an accountant in Minnesota.

“And that’s a big problem for them,” he said. “They don’t have 200 bucks.”

Taxpayers are facing the first round of penalties under Obamacare’s “individual mandate,” which requires most Americans to prove they have health insurance coverage or else pay the tax that the Supreme Court ruled made the law constitutional.

But Indiana accountant Scott Frick said one of his clients, told he would have to fork over $850 for going without insurance last year, thought about the IRS and decided not to pay, just to “see what happens.”

The episodes raise questions for the revenue agency, which is trying to figure out just how far it’s prepared to go to collect the Obamacare tax — and if future administrations will enforce it at all.

As I pointed out in another post, these people just finding out their 2014 penalty Shared Responsibility Payment may already owe for 2015. Surprise!

Also, I had forgotten that, as the article points out later on, the IRS is forbidden from laying criminal charges or liens against people who don’t pay the penalty. All they can do is lower their future refunds. You can bet there will be many people willing to pay that price, rather than shell out for the more expensive “affordable care” policies.

Regardless, this refusal to pay strikes me as a good thing, a sign that our spirit isn’t dead yet. I hope it catches on, and that everyone refuses to pay.

Somewhere, Mr. Jefferson smiles.

via Michael Walsh


#Obamacare Chronicles: If you paid a penalty for 2014, you may already owe one for 2015

February 24, 2015
"2014 voters"

Paid their Obamacare penalty.

I wrote before about how the Democrats are increasingly frightened of the angry mob that might rise against them once the non-coverage penalties in Obamacare start to be enforced. People who didn’t obey the mandate in 2014 will likely find themselves with smaller refunds than expected, or maybe even owing Uncle Sam. That makes for unhappy voters, who will be looking for someone to hurt. Probably the congresscritters (All Democrats) who voted for Obamacare.

But wait! There’s more!

There’s another problem. The administration’s enrollment period just ended on February 15. So if people haven’t signed up for Obamacare already, they’ll be stuck paying the higher penalty for 2015.

By the way, Democrats don’t like to call the Obamacare penalty a penalty; its official name is the Shared Responsibility Payment. But the fact is, the lawmakers’ intent in levying the fines was to make it so painful for the average American to ignore Obamacare that he or she will ultimately knuckle under and do as instructed.

Except that it’s easier to inflict theoretical pain than actual pain. Tax filing season is enlightening many Americans for the first time about the “mechanics involved” in Obamacare’s fee structure, Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett wrote to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on December 29. “Many taxpayers will see the financial consequences of their decision not to enroll in health insurance for the first time when they make the Shared Responsibility Payment.”

And the penalties get even larger in 2016 for those recalcitrant serfs who still refuse to obey their Betters in DC. Estimates of those range from 3-6 million people.

So Congressmen Doggett, Levin, and “Baghdad Jim” McDermott implored the administration to create a supplemental “open enrollment period” so people who didn’t buy by the 15th could do so and escape the 2015 “Shared Responsibility Payment.” And so the Democrats could escape the angry mob. This exemption comes with a stringent qualification standard, however: You have to be willing to say “I didn’t know,” and you will be magically cleansed of your sins.

The administration has done this before, granting exemptions and delays ex machina for the employer mandate with no legal authority to do so. (The ACA is very clear about its deadlines.) Now it’s an extension for open enrollment. Let’s be frank: none of these illegal waivers were granted because of sympathy for the victims. Their sole purpose is to help Democrats avoid the consequences of ramming this anti-constitutional monstrosity of a law down the throat of a nation that didn’t want it. By delaying the mandates and punishments past election day or simply granting exemptions to the latest group to complain (Oh wait! Here’s another enrollment period!), they hope to avoid the electoral whipping they so richly deserve.

That didn’t work in 2010 or 2014. Per Byron York again, no matter how it’s delayed, the voters hate the individual mandate:

The individual mandate has always been extremely unpopular. In December 2014, just a couple of months ago, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 64 percent of those surveyed don’t like the mandate. The level of disapproval has been pretty consistent since the law was passed.

And there’s very little chance the individual mandate’s approval numbers will improve, now that millions of Americans are getting a taste of what it really means. They’re learning an essential truth of Obamacare, which is that if you don’t sign up, the IRS will make you pay.

It’s not going to work for them in 2016, either.

PS: Oh, and since we’re talking about angry mobs, let us not forget the IRS sending the wrong tax information to nearly 1,000,000 people receiving Obamacare subsidies.


#Obamacare chronicles: government sends wrong tax information to nearly 1,000,000 people

February 20, 2015
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

What was it Ronald Reagan said? Oh yeah:

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'”

Happy to help, America:

About 800,000 HealthCare.gov customers got the wrong tax information from the government, the Obama administration said Friday, and officials are asking those affected to delay filing their 2014 returns.

The tax mistake is a self-inflicted injury that comes on the heels of what President Barack Obama had touted as a successful enrollment season, with about 11.4 million people signed up.

California, which is running its own insurance market, on Thursday announced a similar problem affecting about 100,000 people in that state.

The errors mean that nearly 1 million people may have to wait longer to get their income tax refunds this year. And they could also affect the size of those refunds.

Another 50,000 or so who already filed may have to resubmit their returns.

My late father, a sharp man in many ways, once taught me something about handling employees:

“You can do almost anything you want to people who work for you, but you never, ever screw with their money.”

The same holds true for government and taxpayers; the Fed and California just broke that rule big-time.

Consider: We are all required by law (1) to have health insurance. If we do not, we will be punished. If our insurance is not provided by an employer, we are required, again by law, to buy it on the Obamacare exchanges. In order to afford those policies, now more expensive thanks to the “Affordable” Care Act, the government offers subsidies, the amount of which is determined by various factors, such as income and number of children. And that information has to be provided to the IRS on our tax forms, including whatever information the government provides on these new “1095” forms.  And that information in turn helps determine whether we get a refund, what size it is, or if we wind up owing the government money.

And the government gave out the wrong information.

To a million people. smiley d'oh!

It’s bad enough that people who wanted to file their return and who have almost most certainly scheduled their appointments with overworked tax-prep people will now have to delay their filings (For how long? Can they reschedule with the accountant?), but what about those who have already filed? Now they have no idea whether they get a refund or owe Uncle Sam — surprise!!

And you can bet a good portion of these one million taxpayers, most of them voters, are going to be royally ticked off about this and looking for someone to blame as we get into election season. (2)

Dad was right.

via Iowahawk:

Footnotes:
(1) This anti-constitutional monstrosity of a law, that is.
(2) That would be the Democratic Party. Not a single Republican voted for this. In fact, we were screaming like Cassandra that this was a fiasco waiting to happen. Please remember that on election day.


#Obamacare: Democrats scared law they wrote might actually be enforced

February 16, 2015

satire train wreck

And well they should be. Obamacare was structured so that you paid a fine fee tax (1) if you didn’t have the required insurance. That fine was trivial for the first year, but scheduled to go up each year for the next two years: from $95 in 2014 to $325 this year to as much as $1,100 next year. That rule is now coming into effect, so…

Cue Democrat panic:

The three are Michigan’s Sander Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, and Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, and Lloyd Doggett of Texas. All worked to help steer Obama’s law through rancorous congressional debates from 2009-2010.

The lawmakers say they are concerned that many of their constituents will find out about the penalties after it’s already too late for them to sign up for coverage, since open enrollment ended Sunday.

That means they could wind up uninsured for another year, only to owe substantially higher fines in 2016. The fines are collected through the income tax system.

This year is the first time ordinary Americans will experience the complicated interactions between the health care law and taxes. Based on congressional analysis, tax preparation giant H&R Block says roughly 4 million uninsured people will pay penalties.

When they wrote this anti-constitutional monstrosity of a law, Reps. Levin, McDermott, and Doggett, along with all the other Democrats who voted for it (2), had fooled themselves into thinking that it would become so popular that the number of people subject to a fine would be de minimis.

Four million angry voters is not what they imagined, though it seems as if they have started to have nightmares about it, since they’re begging Obama to use his pen and phone (and the authority he does not have) to rewrite the law –again– so Democrats can avoid the consequences of their arrogance and stupidity.

Trouble is (for them), I’m not so sure President Obama cares all that much anymore what happens to Democratic congressman. He doesn’t have to worry about reelection, now does he?

And, oh yes, these voters will be angry, and Republicans will be sure to remind them just who visited this hurt on them.

Like elections, votes in Congress have consequences.

via Conservative Intelligence Briefing

Footnotes:
(1) Only John Roberts understands which.
(2) And not a single Republican, let us be clear. This mess isn’t our fault at all.


Welcome to tax season, now prepare to give your #Obamacare subsidy back

February 2, 2015
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

This item has been sitting in my files for a while (1), but, since we’re deep into tax season, it’s still relevant — especially so for people relying on that federal subsidy to help pay for their “affordable” health care:

As many as 3.4 million people who received Obamacare subsidies may owe refunds to the federal government, according to an estimate by a tax preparation firm.

H&R Block is estimating that as many as half of the 6.8 million people who received insurance premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act benefited from subsidies that were too large, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

“The ACA is going to result in more confusion for existing clients, and many taxpayers may well be very disappointed by getting less money and possibly even owing money,” the president of a tax preparation and education school told the Journal.

While the Affordable Care Act fines those who don’t have health insurance, it also provides subsidies for people making up to four times the federal poverty line ($46,680).

But the subsidies are based on past tax returns, so many people may be receiving too much, according to Vanderbilt University assistant professor John Graves, who projects the average subsidy is $208 too high, the Journal reports.

If, like a lot of people, you’re used to getting some sort of a refund, you probably already have an idea of how much you expect and how you plan to spend it. Imagine then how happy these many millions of people will be when they’re told they’re either getting less of a refund, or that they in fact owe money. And, on top of that, their subsidy for the next year will almost certainly be lower, so even more of their money will go to the insurance companies by force of law for coverage that probably isn’t as good as they had before, or at least isn’t what was promised.

That, my friends, is a recipe for angry voters. And, oh, there’s a presidential election warming up, too. Fancy that.

If anything good comes of this fiasco, it will probably be the hard-learned lesson that government is poorly equipped to do more than a certain few tasks and running a huge, massively complicated healthcare system isn’t among them.

Call it another “teachable moment.”

Footnote:
(1) Ancient by Internet standards — a whole month!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Sweet, sweet schadenfreude: Harvard faculty who championed #Obamacare angry for being subject to Obamacare

January 5, 2015
"Another Obamacare supporter learns the truth."

“Another Obamacare supporter learns the truth.”

Via Charles Cooke, this is too delicious for words:

For years, Harvard’s experts on health economics and policy have advised presidents and Congress on how to provide health benefits to the nation at a reasonable cost. But those remedies will now be applied to the Harvard faculty, and the professors are in an uproar.

Members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the heart of the 378-year-old university, voted overwhelmingly in November to oppose changes that would require them and thousands of other Harvard employees to pay more for health care. The university says the increases are in part a result of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, which many Harvard professors championed.

The faculty vote came too late to stop the cost increases from taking effect this month, and the anger on campus remains focused on questions that are agitating many workplaces: How should the burden of health costs be shared by employers and employees? If employees have to bear more of the cost, will they skimp on medically necessary care, curtail the use of less valuable services, or both?

What’s the old saying? “Be careful what you wish for; you might get it!”

Thomas Sowell has observed that the problem with letting government regulate so much is that the regulators seldom have to live with the consequences of their decisions. It’s the ordinary people who suffer. The same can be said for academics at Harvard (and other universities): state-run healthcare sounds great in theory –the libraries are full of books and articles endorsing it, as well as the conversation in faculty lounges– but make them live by the rules they advocated and they scream “UNFAIR!!”

What they’re being asked to do, of course, is what many of us already do: pay an increased but still small portion of their healthcare costs, which are going up for the university. This, in turn has caused a ruckus, though Harvard argues that provisions of the Affordable Care Act for them to take these steps:

In Harvard’s health care enrollment guide for 2015, the university said it “must respond to the national trend of rising health care costs, including some driven by health care reform,” otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act. The guide said that Harvard faced “added costs” because of provisions in the health care law that extend coverage for children up to age 26, offer free preventive services like mammograms and colonoscopies and, starting in 2018, add a tax on high-cost insurance, known as the Cadillac tax.

The quoted complaints are a treat, too:

Richard F. Thomas, a Harvard professor of classics and one of the world’s leading authorities on Virgil, called the changes “deplorable, deeply regressive, a sign of the corporatization of the university.”

Mary D. Lewis, a professor who specializes in the history of modern France and has led opposition to the benefit changes, said they were tantamount to a pay cut. “Moreover,” she said, “this pay cut will be timed to come at precisely the moment when you are sick, stressed or facing the challenges of being a new parent.”

You should take them seriously, because PhD’s in Classics and History are experts in the economics of health care. Apparently they need a refresher in one of the basic rules of economics: When you increase a business or other institution’s cost, it will deal with it in one of four ways. It will cease operation, deciding the expenses are too great; it will absorb the cost; it offset the cost by reducing other expenses; or it will offset the cost by passing all or a portion of it to the consumer. Harvard has chosen this last option. What, really, did these degree-bearing men and women expect?

I know, I know. A continued ride on the gravy train, because they’re educators, damn it!

On the other hand, Professor Lewis is right: this is tantamount to a pay cut, something many of us have experienced thanks to the skyrocketing premiums and massively increased deductibles under our new “affordable” system.

Why should Ivy League academics be exempt?

Congratulations, folks! You got what you asked for!

smiley popcorn

 


#Obamacare: Good news! Your tax dollars pay for foreign diplomats’ health care!

December 11, 2014
x

Obamacare loophole writer in action

Reason number eleventy-billion why they should have read the danged bill. Apparently a loophole allows foreign diplomats and UN employees to receive premium subsidies for their insurance:

Congress is considering a new bill aimed at stopping foreign diplomats stationed in the United States from receiving taxpayer subsidized health coverage benefits under Obamacare, according to a copy of the bill filed Wednesday.

Foreign diplomats and United Nations employees posted in the United States are permitted to receive premium tax credits and other perks paid for by the U.S. taxpayer under a loophole in President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act.

The Obama administration confirmed earlier this year that the loophole existed, prompting outrage on Capitol Hill among lawmakers who argue that the U.S. taxpayer should not foot the bill for foreign diplomats’ health care costs.

House lawmakers moved on Wednesday to close the loophole by offering a new bill to designate foreign diplomats as ineligible for tax credits and other cost-sharing reductions under Obamacare, according to a copy of the bill authored by Reps. Ed Royce (R., Calif.) and Dave Camp (R., Mich.)

The legislation would require Health and Human Services (HHS), which oversees implementation of Obamacare, to ensure that no foreign diplomats are receiving such benefits.

I think Moscow can pay for its own diplomats’ insurance, don’t you?

Of course, given the rolling disaster that is Obamacare, maybe encouraging foreign diplomats to sign up for it could be considered an act of war.


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