It’s no longer a fine or tax or fee. It’s reaching out
(Forbes) As many as 20 million Americans soon will be getting a letter from the Internal Revenue Service “suggesting” they sign up for ObamaCare insurance.
Getting a letter from the IRS can be a threatening and nerve-racking experience; it seldom is seen as a suggestion and more of a threat. But at President Obama’s direction, the IRS is “reaching out” to people who paid the tax penalty for not buying mandatory health insurance or who claimed an exemption in hopes of “attracting” more people to sign up for ObamaCare insurance. The government is particularly interested in compliance from healthy young people.
It probably won’t help Hillary if those young people receive the letters prior to them casting a vote. It won’t necessarily mean a vote for Trump, but, they are already increasingly turning to Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.
Congress is not happy. “We strongly object to any action by the Administration to improperly use sensitive taxpayer information to identify and harass individuals who have rejected the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) by choosing to pay a tax rather than be forced into a health care plan they don’t need and don’t want,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, and Ways & Means Chairman Kevin Brady said in a letter today to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
They warned the IRS about the use of “protected taxpayer information” and sent Koskinen a list of sharp questions demanding more details about how the IRS plans to “reach out directly to individuals” and how the Department of Health and Human Services will be involved in encouraging “their compliance with the individual mandate.”
The question here is whether this it is even legal
Is it legal for the IRS to do this? The leaders warn the IRS that “As you are aware, the confidentiality of tax returns and return information is protected by law.” The “sole permitted use of this confidential data” is to determine whether people are eligible for ACA subsidies.
Here’s from a 2015 article
For most unpaid taxes, there are a variety of ways that the IRS can recoup their money. But the text of the ACA is very clear in stating that taxpayers who don’t pay their ACA penalty are not subject to levies, liens, or criminal prosecution.
The only way that the IRS can collect the ACA penalty is if you pay it voluntarily, or if you’re owed a refund. In the latter case, the IRS deducts the penalty from your refund. Seventy-five percent of tax filers receive a refund, and the average refund was about $2,700 in 2013.
Pretty much every article I’ve perused says the same thing: their only enforcement mechanism is to deduct the penalty from any tax return refund. Not that the IRS has seemingly cared about legalities, especially since 2009. And they have never been shy when it comes to harassing citizens.
Meanwhile, liberal and moderate Dems (not that there are many of the latter left) are feuding over adding a full public, ie government run, option, now that Ocare is collapsing in exactly the manner that was predicted.