Thursday, September 3, 2009

Health Care Bill Will Empower IRS

(Be sure to check out other health care "reform" posts on this blog.)

as if IRS needs any more empowering. Supporters of the administration's health care "reform", is that what you want?

Health care reform means more power for the IRS
(Byron York, 9/2/09 Washington Examiner)

"There's been a lot of discussion about the new and powerful federal agencies that would be created by the passage of a national health care bill. The Health Choices Administration, the Health Benefits Advisory Committee, the Health Insurance Exchange — there are dozens in all.

"But if the plan envisioned by President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats is enacted, the primary federal bureaucracy responsible for implementing and enforcing national health care will be an old and familiar one: the Internal Revenue Service. Under the Democrats' health care proposals, the already powerful — and already feared — IRS would wield even more power and extend its reach even farther into the lives of ordinary Americans, and the presidentially-appointed head of the new health care bureaucracy would have access to confidential IRS information about millions of individual taxpayers."

"The presidentially-appointed head of the new health care bureaucracy" is none other than the Health Choices Commissioner, which is defined in Subtitle E Section 141 of H.R. 3200 heath care "reform" bill. Not just him/her/it, but people working in that bureaucracy would have access. And the Commissioner would not be accountable to anyone but to the president.

The article continues:

"Under the various proposals now on the table, the IRS would become the main agency for determining who has an "acceptable" health insurance plan; for finding and punishing those who don't have such a plan; for subsidizing individual health insurance costs through the issuance of a tax credits; and for enforcing the rules on those who attempt to opt out, abuse, or game the system. A substantial portion of H.R. 3200, the House health care bill, is devoted to amending the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 in order to give the IRS the authority to perform these new duties.

"The Democrats' plan would require all Americans to have "acceptable" insurance coverage (the legislation includes long and complex definitions of "acceptable") and would designate the IRS as the agency charged with enforcing that requirement. On your yearly 1040 tax return, you would be required to attest that you have "acceptable" coverage. Of course, you might be lying, or simply confused about whether or not you are covered, so the IRS would need a way to check your claim for accuracy. Under current plans, insurers would be required to submit to the IRS something like the 1099 form in which taxpayers report outside income. The IRS would then check the information it receives from the insurers against what you have submitted on your tax form.

"If it all matches up, you're fine. If it doesn't, you will hear from the IRS. And if you don't have "acceptable" coverage, you will be subject to substantial fines — fines that will be administered by the IRS."

and determined by the Health Choices Commissioner.

The section of H.R. 3200 this article mentions that would amend the IRS Revenue Code of 1986 is this:

Subtitle A--Shared Responsibility

(a) In General- Subchapter A of chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by adding at the end the following new part:

`subpart a. tax on individuals without acceptable health care coverage.
`Subpart A--Tax on Individuals Without Acceptable Health Care Coverage
`Sec. 59B. Tax on individuals without acceptable health care coverage.

The above is the cut and paste from the actual bill as posted on the Library of Congress THOMAS.

Now, this Section 59B defines the penalty tax if you don't have the coverage, and also lists exceptions. That alone makes an interesting and frustrating reading, but the section that has to do with IRS comes right after Section 59B. It's Section 6050X. (So... that's after 59B? There must be some higher order of reasoning behind numbering that I just can't perceive.) You can see, with some effort, that the information that the Washington Examiner writer gleaned out for his article is basically correct. [emphasis is mine, comments in Italic]


`(a) Requirement of Reporting- Every person who provides acceptable coverage (as defined in section 59B(d)) to any individual during any calendar year shall, at such time as the Secretary may prescribe, make the return described in subsection (b) with respect to such individual. [This is the insurer part of the deal. Your insurer will have to file a report with IRS.]

`(b) Form and Manner of Returns- A return is described in this subsection if such return--
`(1) is in such form as the Secretary may prescribe, and
`(2) contains--
`(A) the name, address, and TIN of the primary insured and the name of each other individual obtaining coverage under the policy,
`(B) the period for which each such individual was provided with the coverage referred to in subsection (a), and
`(C) such other information as the Secretary may require.

`(c) Statements To Be Furnished to Individuals With Respect to Whom Information Is Required- Every person required to make a return under subsection (a) shall furnish to each primary insured whose name is required to be set forth in such return a written statement showing-- [Then your insurer has to issue you a statement of your coverage so that you can file with your tax return. And these two'd better match.]

`(1) the name and address of the person required to make such return and the phone number of the information contact for such person, and
`(2) the information required to be shown on the return with respect to such individual.
The written statement required under the preceding sentence shall be furnished on or before January 31 of the year following the calendar year for which the return under subsection (a) is required to be made.

`(d) Coverage Provided by Governmental Units- In the case of coverage provided by any governmental unit or any agency or instrumentality thereof, the officer or employee who enters into the agreement to provide such coverage (or the person appropriately designated for purposes of this section) shall make the returns and statements required by this section.'.

[This segment refers to the specific sections in the IRS Revenue Code to be changed. To see what kind of penalty awaits the insurer and you, you'd better have a courage to dig through the IRS Code.]

How to prevent tax cheating? That comes in the following sections under Sustitle D, particularly Section 453:

Subtitle D--Other Revenue Provisions

(a) Penalty for Underpayments Attributable to Transactions Lacking Economic Substance-

(1) IN GENERAL- Subsection (b) of section 6662 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by inserting after paragraph (5) the following new paragraph:
`(6) Any disallowance of claimed tax benefits by reason of a transaction lacking economic substance (within the meaning of section 7701(o)) or failing to meet the requirements of any similar rule of law.'.

(2) INCREASED PENALTY FOR NONDISCLOSED TRANSACTIONS- Section 6662 of such Code is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

`(i) Increase in Penalty in Case of Nondisclosed Noneconomic Substance Transactions-

`(1) IN GENERAL- In the case of any portion of an underpayment which is attributable to one or more nondisclosed noneconomic substance transactions, subsection (a) shall be applied with respect to such portion by substituting `40 percent' for `20 percent'.

`(2) NONDISCLOSED NONECONOMIC SUBSTANCE TRANSACTIONS- For purposes of this subsection, the term `nondisclosed noneconomic substance transaction' means any portion of a transaction described in subsection (b)(6) with respect to which the relevant facts affecting the tax treatment are not adequately disclosed in the return nor in a statement attached to the return.

`(3) SPECIAL RULE FOR AMENDED RETURNS- Except as provided in regulations, in no event shall any amendment or supplement to a return of tax be taken into account for purposes of this subsection if the amendment or supplement is filed after the earlier of the date the taxpayer is first contacted by the Secretary regarding the examination of the return or such other date as is specified by the Secretary.'.

So, the section is saying that if IRS thinks there's is not enough disclosed, it would double the penalty, whatever the penalty currently is in that particular section in the IRS Code.

I can really see now that the government is indeed trying so hard to blow as many bubbles as possible to resuscitate the economy. It is already successfully blowing and growing the bubble in government-sponsored and subsidized subprime lending. Cash for clunkers "worked" well enough for the first week of the program; it achieved the result of bringing the sales forward, if that's what they wanted to achieve just to get 3Q GDP into green.

But the most tantalizingly promising bubble is the bubble of fast-growing, self-replicating and self-referencing bureaucracy. If the administration manages to pass its health care "reform", climate change bill (aka cap and trade) and vast financial "reform", imagine how many people can be employed by government agencies to be created! And to think we will be asked to participate in these grand schemes by paying for them!

I highly recommend that you go to the linked article and read the entire article. If the townhall meeting is still ongoing in your area, ask about this IRS further intrusion into private life. The last thing I wanted to quote from the article:

"In either scenario, the IRS would be the key to making the system work. Before you could receive any subsidy, whether through the IRS or not, the Health Choices Administration would have to determine whether you are eligible for it. To do so, the bills under consideration would give the Health Choices Commissioner the authority to demand sensitive, confidential information from the IRS about individual taxpayers. The IRS would have to provide it.

"Under current law, it is a felony for a government official to release taxpayer information in all but the most limited of circumstances. One such exception is for law enforcement; the IRS is allowed to give taxpayer information to prosecutors in criminal cases. The information can also, in some instances, be released to the Social Security Administration and the Veterans' Administration for the determination of benefits. The health care bills would change the Internal Revenue Code to permit the IRS to give similar information to the vast, new health care bureaucracy."


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