04/06/2010 (12:31 pm)
A large number of Americans objected that the Obama health care regime constitutes tyranny, and is not legitimate law. I wrote earlier that by John Locke’s definition of law, health care reform (“HCR” in this article’s title) is not law, and demolishes the rule of law.
Yesterday we saw the first, clear indication that this distinction has practical consequences, when Obama’s Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service declared that citizens who fail to comply with the health care mandate will lose their tax refunds. (By the way, you might want to defer looking up that link until tomorrow; the site appears to be getting crushed by an unanticipated number of visitors.)
Individuals who don’t purchase health insurance may lose their tax refunds according to IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. After acknowledging the recently passed health-care bill limits the agency’s options for enforcing the individual mandate, Shulman told reporters that the most likely way to penalize individuals that don’t comply is by reducing or confiscating their tax refunds.
Speaking at the National Press Club on Monday, Shulman downplayed the IRS’s role in enforcing the recent overhaul of the health insurance industry by claiming the agency would not aggressively target individuals who don’t purchase coverage. He noted that the health-care bill expressly forbids the agency from freezing bank accounts, seizing assets or pursuing criminal charges, but when pressed said the IRS would most likely use tax refund offsets to penalize those that don’t comply with the mandate. The IRS uses refund offsets to collect from individuals that owe the federal government a delinquent debt.
“These are not the kinds of things we send agents out about,” Shulman said. “These are things where you get a letter from us. Congress was very careful to make sure there was nothing too punitive in this bill.”
The key to the affairs rests in the fact that this enforcement mechanism does not appear to exist in the bill. I searched the pdf copy of the bill (you can find the text of the bill here) and discovered that the only reference to the IRS comes in the portions creating a notification for the failure to comply with the mandate. I was unable to find the actual penalties. American Pundit echoes Business Week in positing a $325 per-person fine beginning in 2015, with an increase to $695 per person the following year.
When the law consists of the desires of a single man or the whim of a bureau, liberty does not exist. When the government can exact penalties for a positive failure to perform a specific act, it can compel anything at all. This law must be repealed, or a new nation must be formed.
Repeal of this act will not be enough, however. We need, at the least, a constitutional amendment clarifying the limits of the commerce clause, to correct the out-of-control expansion of allowable government meddling.
1 Comment »
Comment by suek
Not relevant to your point, but it certainly raises the “refund” issue. Given the possibility that the IRS may make it’s own judgment, it seems like it might be desirable for people to evaluate their tax situation in Oct-Nov, and adjust their last tax payment accordingly. Or take a look at what is being withheld and arrange for only the barest required amount to be withheld, and use a bank instead of the IRS to save money. I also recommend that people take the H&R tax course at least once – you don’t need to be seeking employment in order to take it – so that you understand the forms better. There are a couple of things that are worth exploring: 1) you are not penalized as long as you have had 90% of your previous year’s tax withheld. 2) if you pay and estimated tax instead of withholding, penalties are assessed by quarters, not by the end of year totals.
Know your enemy.