Yahoo has a nice primer on ♡bamaCare!!!’s penalties for failure to obtain insurance, or pay the insurance “tax” or whatever the hell it is. But the penalties, while increasingly harsh, might not be all they’re cracked up to be:
The point of such penalties isn’t to punish people or raise revenue for the government but to provide an increasingly strong incentive to sign up for insurance, from any source. ACA enrollees can qualify for federal subsidies that will reduce the cost of coverage up to income levels of about $47,000 for an individual and $95,000 for a family of four. At some point, the cost of coverage could be cheaper than the penalty for some people, which in theory ought to make enrolling a no-brainer.
There’s one wild card, though: It’s still not clear how the government will collect penalty fees, or how aggressively it will enforce them. About 80% of people who file a tax return get a refund, and the Internal Revenue Service will be allowed to deduct the amount of penalties owed from those refunds. But that could create an undesirable cat-and-mouse game in which taxpayers deliberately underpay each year, making it harder for the government to collect not just ACA penalty fees but basic taxes. So the IRS may be reluctant to hack into refunds. And there’s no other clear-cut way for the government to garnish wages or take other aggressive steps to collect fees.
Simple lawfulness isn’t much of an impediment for the IRS these days, which is why it’s so vital for the GOP to take the Senate this fall if we’re to have any hope of reining in the rogue agency.
A smart GOP (cough, cough) could have a field day sending taxpayer-friendly IRS reform bills for Professor Wiggleroom to veto.