April 15 2014
IRS Agents: The New ObamaCare Police
Patrice J. Lee
Some Americans may get a knock on their door from the IRS as a result of the forms they are filing today. It won’t be because they cheated on their taxes, but because they don’t have healthcare insurance that meets with government approval. ObamaCare penalizes uninsured Americans and the Administration is committed to enforcing the law against these ObamaCare cheats.
Beginning this year, tax filers have noticed a new question that asks if they have healthcare coverage. That question is made possible because of the ObamaCare personal mandate that requires all Americans to carry healthcare coverage whether from their employers or individuals plans. If you do not have coverage you face a penalty of $95 per adult and $47.50 per child (up to $285 for a family) or 1% of your taxable income, whichever is greater. This penalty will rise over the next few years to $695 per person.
Will the government really come after you if you don’t have ObamaCare or any healthcare coverage? Absolutely. It’s a non-negotiable priority just like snow removal according to John Koskinen, the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.
Fox News reports:
For those who do not buy insurance, the question for the IRS is how far the agency goes to extract the penalty.
The IRS has said since Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010 that it will follow the letter of law for those who fail to purchase insurance -- that is, Americans will face a fine but will not have their property or bank accounts levied.
"Congress was very careful to make sure that there was nothing too punitive in this bill," then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said in 2010.
He said at the time that those who fail to purchase insurance will get a letter from the IRS and could have their penalty taken from subsequent tax refunds. But he also made clear the agency "can actually do collection if need be."
But whether Americans' wages can be garnished remains unclear.
The IRS asked in 2012 to hire an additional 1,269 employees, at a cost of $473.4 million, to prepare for the health law's implementation, according to a budget proposal it made to the Treasury Department.
However, most the requests were for support roles such as information technology or customer service, and few were for agents, according to the Tampa Bay Times' PolitiFact team, after examining the 159-page budget request.
If it’s not scary enough that the IRS will come after you for not carrying healthcare, Americans should be appalled that resources are being allocated toward chasing after the uninsured –meaning regular tax cheats may get away scotch-free.
The Associated Press reports that budget cuts and new responsibilities are straining the IRS’s ability to police tax returns:
This year, the IRS will have fewer agents auditing returns than at any time since at least the 1980s.
Taxpayer services are suffering, too, with millions of phone calls to the IRS going unanswered.
"We keep going after the people who look like the worst of the bad guys," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in an interview. "But there are going to be some people that we should catch, either in terms of collecting the revenue from them or prosecuting them, that we're not going to catch."
Better technology is helping to offset some budget cuts.
But if you operate a business that deals in cash, with income or expenses that are not independently reported to the IRS, your chances of getting caught are lower than they have been in years.
Last year, the IRS audited less than 1 percent of all returns from individuals, the lowest rate since 2005. This year, Koskinen said, "The numbers will go down."
The IRS is legally obligated to enforce the health law, Koskinen said. That means budget savings will have to be found elsewhere.
Koskinen said he can cut spending in three areas: enforcement, taxpayer services and technology. Technology upgrades can only be put off for so long, he said, so enforcement and taxpayer services are suffering.
Once again, welcome to the brave new world of ObamaCare. Happy Tax Day!