#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.


#IRS: Lois Lerner’s emails exist. Lying suckweasels shown to be liars.

August 26, 2014
"The dog ate my Blackberry!"

“The dog ate my Blackberry!”

Oh, this is just beautiful. After claiming the dog ate their homework Lois Lerner’s hard drive had crashed and then been destroyed, making her emails unrecoverable, DoJ lawyers now tell Judicial Watch, “Oh, hey! Whaddya know? We may actually those emails. But, they’re too hard to find. Trust us.”

Judicial Watch, a watchdog group which has been investigating the IRS scandal, has learned that Lois Lerner’s supposedly missing emails may still exist within a federal government back-up system.

After months of administration officials insisting that two years worth of Lerner’s emails were irretrievable following a computer crash, a Department of Justice attorney admitted to Judicial Watch Friday that the federal government backs up all their computer records in case of catastrophe.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified just a few months ago that Lerner’s emails were lost, while the IRS claimed it had gone to “unprecedented efforts” to retrieve the emails.

The news of the “lost” emails was met with wide mockery and disbelief in the press, with many suspecting that some back-up of the records must exist.

Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, told Fox News that the Department of Justice now claims it would be “too hard” to retrieve Lerner’s emails from the back-up system.

Here’s the interview with Fitton, who, I’d guess, had to calm himself down before going on air:

And now we have confirmation that, as everyone with more than half a brain suspected, the government had backups all along. I can only imagine what Chairman Issa of the Oversight committee said on hearing the news, but I suspect the more publicly repeatable words included “perjury.” IRS commissioner Koskinen swore up and down that they had done everything they could to retrieve those emails, but, well, gosh. These things happen.

And now they’re claiming the records would be too hard to find? In a backup system that’s supposed to keep government operations going in the event of a catastrophe? That’s an insult to our intelligence and another damnable lie. And I want someone to try that excuse when the IRS is doing the investigating. “Sorry, Mr. IRS agent, those records would be too much work to find.”

People at IRS and possibly DoJ need to do prison time over this.

PS: If you’re scratching your head wondering why this is important, Lerner’s emails may be crucial to establishing how and at whose direction the harassment of conservative and Tea Party 501(c) applicants began. The persecution of these groups prevented their participation in the 2012 election, thus affecting the constitutional rights of the applicants and, perhaps, materially affecting the election. When you add that to the utterly vile idea of politicizing the nation’s tax enforcement bureau… Yeah, this is important.

BTW: Breaking today at PJMedia, Bryan Preston reports that the IRS is now saying that Lerner’s Blackberry was destroyed, too, after it knew of her hard drive crash, and thus any emails it recorded are inaccessible, as well. These people have no shame. But they do evidently have a backup system…

RELATED: More from Walter Russell Mead — “The IRS scandal has arrived.”

 


Paul Ryan to #IRS commissioner: “No one trusts you.”

June 20, 2014
"Liar"

“Liar”

Well, gee after over a year of revelations about government harassment of conservative groups applying for non-profit status, and after recent claims that convenient computer crashes wiped out emails demanded by investigating congressional committees, what reasonable person wouldn’t trust the IRS?

Paul Ryan, for one, when questioning IRS Commissioner Koskinen:

“This is unbelievable,” said Ryan, a Republican, at a Friday hearing. “The apology that ought to be given is to the American taxpayer, not to a government agency that is abusing its power. I am sitting here listening to this testimony, I don’t believe it. That’s your problem. Nobody believes you.”

“You are the Internal Revenue Service,” Ryan added. “You can reach into the lives of hard-working taxpayers and with a phone call, an e-mail or a letter you can turn their lives upside down. You ask taxpayers to hang onto seven years of their personal tax information in case they are ever audited and you can’t keep six months worth of employee e-mails? And now that we are seeing this investigation, you don’t have the e-mails, hard drives crashed. You learned about this months ago. You just told us, and we had to ask you on Monday.”

Clearly, Congressman Ryan’s lack of faith in the bureaucracy’s honesty is rooted in anti-Obama racism. (1)

Once again, we’re left with a choice when it comes to an Obama administration scandal: either the IRS is massively incompetent and is unintentionally violating federal records retention laws, in spite of getting all the money and IT help it wants, or a bunch of people are lying through their teeth and deliberately violating those same laws (as well as others).

I’m usually willing to blame stupidity before malice, but the IRS and the Obama White House are making that awfully hard.

RELATED: An interesting reminder from Ed Morrissey — as part of a larger article on abuse of power and the missing emails, he mentions an odd meeting between the IRS Chief Counsel, William Wilkins, and President Obama, himself, just days before Wilkins sent Lerner new guidelines for dealing with Tea Party applicants for 501(c) status:

There are are numerous differences between [Watergate and the IRS] scandals, too. For one thing, no one has tied this to the White House or any of President Barack Obama’s advisers. The closest insinuation between the IRS targeting scandal has been an unusual meeting between the IRS’ chief counsel, William Wilkins, and Obama on April 23, 2012. The chief counsel for the IRS would have no discernible reason for a private meeting with the president; his job would be to brief the IRS commissioner – at the time Douglas Shulman – who met with Obama the very next day.

The day after that, Wilkins sent a revised set of guidelines to Lois Lerner for the tax-exempt unit to use when applying extra scrutiny. To this day, no explanation for this meeting has been made public, even though records show that Wilkins spent hours at the White House with “POTUS” as his host.

Nor was this the first time that Wilkins appears in the targeting narrative. Carter Hull, a retired high-ranking IRS official with 48 years’ experience at the agency, testified that after he approved a Tea Party-related tax-exempt application, it got routed to Wilkins rather than finalized.

I noted this and another curious meeting with the head of the anti-Tea Party Treasury employees union last July. I’d suggest both these are potentially fruitful avenues of investigation for a House select committee.

Footnote:
(1) You just know some MSNBC talking head is dying to say just that.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#IRS revokes tax-free status of conservative group

April 21, 2014
"The new liberal tokerance"

“The IRS questions another conservative”

I have to admit, I have no idea if the Patrick Henry Center really did break the rules and thus earned the revocation of its 501(c)(3) status, but you’d think the IRS would be extra-super-duper reluctant to do this, given the revelations over the deliberate targeting of conservative groups:

The Internal Revenue Service has revoked the tax-exemption for a conservative charity, saying the group’s criticism of Hillary Clinton and John Kerry violated rules against political activity.

The Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty engaged in “deliberate and consistent intervention in political campaigns,” according to the IRS decision released Friday and first reported by USA Today.

The IRS said the group’s tax-exemption would be revoked as of July 1 unless the decision is successfully appealed.

Tax-exempt groups are restricted from engaging in certain political activity, including participating in partisan campaigns in support or opposition to a candidate.

“Improper politicking ” was the reason given for the close and slow scrutiny given to conservative groups applying for tax-free status after the 2010 election (few if any left-wing groups received the same treatment), and it was only recently revealed that Lois Lerner, former head of the Exempt Organizations Division, was trying to coordinate with the Justice Department to pursue prosecution of conservative groups. (1)

The Internal Revenue Service is already one of the most loathed organizations in America, something that’s only grown worse in the wake of this scandal, and I find it hard to believe that someone there approved this move without having an air-tight case. It would just be begging for trouble to do otherwise.

On the other hand, the Beltway bureaucracy often seems sealed within an echo chamber high atop an ivory tower, so maybe someone was dumb enough to think they could swat a pesky conservative group with impunity.

Either way, it’s more grist for Mr. Issa’s mill.

RELATED: Earlier posts on the IRS.

Footnote:
(1) Following up on the helpful suggestion of Senator Whitehouse (D-RI), it should be noted. If they’re not actively conspiring, they’re at least sympatico in their liberal fascism.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Restraining Leviathan III: when the IRS goes wild

April 24, 2011

Here’s a question, the answer to which may just be a hearty “WTF?” Why does the IRS want to turn US banks into deputy tax collectors for foreign governments?

Under a proposed regulation, the Internal Revenue Service would order banks to report interest on deposits from foreign investors, not to the US government, but to the home government of the depositor.

What’s the problem, you ask? There are five, but I’ll list two here:

  1. Foreign depositors have put trillions of dollars in US banks because of the very fact that we don’t report interest payments to their governments. Yes, it’s tax avoidance on their part, but the moneys deposited here help grow our economy through loans and investment capital. If this regulation is enacted, foreign depositors will have every reason to move their fortunes elsewhere, to places like Hong Kong or the Caymans, which don’t threaten to rat them out to their governments. That loss would be a tremendous blow to our already ailing economy and banking sector.
  2. Even worse, this regulation overturns established US law. Congress mandated this safe-harbor for foreign deposits 90 years ago in recognition of the benefits an inflow of capital would bring, and that law has been reaffirmed by our democratically elected legislators at least twice since then. Yet now a bureaucratic agency want to undue laws enacted by the legislature through simple fiat.

WTF, indeed.

Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute has produced a video that goes into these and three other reasons why this regulation shows the IRS is Stuck On Stupid:

This proposed regulation and the harm it will do have attracted the attention of Congress, who’ve reacted in bipartisan opposition to this dumb idea. For example, Senator Rubio said in a letter to President Obama:

At a time when unemployment remains high and economic growth is lagging, forcing banks to report interest paid to nonresident aliens would encourage the flight of capital overseas to jurisdictions without onerous reporting requirements, place unnecessary burdens on the American economy, put our financial system at a fundamental competitive disadvantage, and would restrict access to capital when our economy can least afford it. …I respectfully ask that Regulation 146097-09 be permanently withdrawn from consideration. This regulation would have a highly detrimental effect on our economy at a time when pro-growth measures are sorely needed.

You can read more reactions to this bureaucratic usurpation at Mitchell’s International Liberty, though I have no doubt the statists in the Congressional Progressive Caucus think it’s just peachy.

LINKS: Other posts on Leviathan government.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Maybe they’re all trying out for Cabinet posts?

September 10, 2010

Perhaps inspired by the example of Treasury Secretary Timothy “Turbo-tax” Geithner, 41 White House aides owe a collective $831,000 in back taxes. And, as the LA Times’ Andrew Malcolm explains, the problem isn’t just limited to the West Wing:

Over the years a lot of suspicion has built up across the country about Washington and its population of opportunistic transients coming to see themselves as a special kind of person, somehow above average working Americans who don’t work down in that former swamp.

Well, finally, an end to all those undocumented doubts. Thanks to some diligent digging by the Washington Post, those suspicions can at last be put to rest.

They’re correct. Accurate. Dead-on. Laser-guided. On target. Bingo-bango. As clear as it’s always seemed to those Americans who don’t feel special entitlements and do meet their government obligations.

We now know that federal employees across the nation owe fully $1 billion in back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service.

And here’s just one example:

In the House of Representatives, 421 people owe a total $6,524,892. In the Senate, 217 owe $2,774,836. In the IRS’ parent department, Treasury, 1,204 owe $7,670,814. At the Labor Department, where Secretary Hilda Solis’ husband had some back-tax problems before her confirmation, 463 owe $7,481,463. Eighty-one workers for the Federal Reserve System’s board of governors owe $1,076,733.

Yet Congress wants to raise taxes on all of us to pay for health care and all the other stupid ideas wonderful reforms its enacted?

“Obedience to the law is for thee, not for me!” cried the oligarch.

Maybe they should garnish the deadbeats’ wages until the backlog is cleared, instead. Just a thought.

LINKS: Hot Air.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Taxes: the cost of compliance

April 12, 2010

Tax Day is coming, and in its honor we have another video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, in which Hiwa Alaghebandian discusses the enormous amounts it costs our economy just to comply with IRS regulations:

Either a flat income tax or a VAT as a replacement for the income tax seems more and more attractive all the time.

(via Dan Mitchell)

LINKS: More at Hot Air.


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