Ever since the individual health insurance mandate in Obamacare was upheld as a tax in 2012, taxpayers have been waiting to see how Obamacare affects their tax bill.
TurboTax, an online tax service, recently estimated that the average tax penalty for lacking health insurance will be $301.
When faced with unpopular requirements of law, the Obama administration has repeatedly ignored them—despite the fact that President Obama signed Obamacare—and it is doing so yet again: The IRS recently announced that it would waive a tax penalty for some taxpayers.
In other words, some people received more money than they were entitled to from the federal government to help buy insurance on federal and state Obamacare exchanges. The law states that if people received too much, they would have to pay it back.
However, the IRS will waive the 2014 late payment penalty for those who received an excessive premium tax credit. The IRS has now granted these recipients of excessive federal benefits a one-year holiday. Even though they clearly owe the overpayment for 2014, they will effectively not have to, and no doubt won’t, pay the money back because they will not face any penalty if they do not pay it immediately. If the Obama administration delays the payment again, it will ensure that the collection of too-big subsidies will be left to the next president.
The IRS is purporting to do this pursuant to its waiver authority, 26 U.S.C. § 6654(e)(3)(A), to waive penalties for estimated tax underpayment in “unusual circumstances the imposition of such addition to tax would be against equity and good conscience,” and considers non-payment to be “due to reasonable cause” under 26 U.S.C. § 6651(a)(2).
This is the latest of a long string of signs that Obamacare is unworkable. The IRS should be able to recoup money from those who received too large a subsidy for their Obamacare insurance plans. After all, under the law, it was money they were not entitled to. It is not really a tax at all, but a repayment to the government that happens to run through the tax system.
It would be similar to another government agency saying a contractor or vendor did not have to repay overpayments the government made to them because the burden of doing so would be too high. Such a situation would be completely unacceptable because those businesses would be keeping money that was not theirs to begin with. The same rationale applies here.
Undoubtedly there will be some for whom it is an economic hardship to repay the government for the too-big subsidy they received. However, it is unfair to American taxpayers that they will be spending more on Obamacare this year, and possibly future years, because the law set up such an unworkable situation that the government is unwilling to recoup overpayments it made. Why not give an Obamacare waiver to all Americans?