Free Markets, Free People

Individual mandate unenforceable? Ask the IRS

If there is any doubt about the individual mandate being enforceable, the chief of the IRS certainly sees no problem:

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.

“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.”

Well, I guess that depends on how you define “punitive”.  But be advised – others may claim the individual mandate is unenforceable.  The IRS doesn’t share that belief.

~McQ

[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

11 Responses to Individual mandate unenforceable? Ask the IRS

  • Hence why I’ve changed my tax withholding to ensure I owe at the end of the year. I have better uses for the money now rather than getting some of it back at the beginning of the year. On the plus side, there’s nothing for the IRS to threaten to withhold from me.
    Americans need to skip filling out that information en masse. Overload their system. It’s as peaceful as it gets and can send a very, very potent message.

  • They knew when they passed this that it was a “mandate” that won’t hold up to SCOTUS review, so they softened it.
    Having RS Commissioner Doug Shulman weigh in with this “mandate” is easily enforced jazz, does nothing to help them during judicial review.

  • Yeah, this is the new lefty meme around here: “You guys are freaking out about nothing.  The IRS can’t do anything to you.”

    My response is always:

    #1.  I don’t care if there is no enforcement provision.  If the law is unconstitutional then it should be eliminated.  Leave it there and you create a precedent that the people who want the to make us do things for our own good .  Are you willing to trust that the next law based on this precedent won’t have effective penalties?  Are you willing to accept that when a Republican Administration gets in and, say, requires you to buy a handgun or requires 6 weeks of mandatory counseling prior to getting an abortion?
     
    #2.  How long do you think this lack of penalty will last if it starts to get in the way of implementation of the law?  Do you know how easy it would be to attach a small amendment to the defense budget or some other bill to incrementally increase this penalty unitil it is meaningful?

    #3.  Without the individual mandate, the law can’t work.  The main culprit is the elimination of exclusions due to pre-existing conditions, but there are several other provisions (i.e., the strong dependence on preventative care) that require the mandate.  Are you actually so enamored of the idea of winning politically that you don’t care if the law actually works or not?

    #4.  Eliminate the mandate, and all that is left is the expansion of Medicare and Medicaid.   Every bit of supposed “cost savings” or “bending the cost curve downward” claimed for the law is related to the exchanges and other portions that are dependent on the mandate.  Are you actually so enamored of the idea of winning politically that you can even consider an ineffective health care reform law that bankrupts the country a political victory?

  • DANG!

    On #1 : “Leave it there and you create a precedent that the people who want the to make us do things for our own good can use to meddle even further in our lives.”

    Also on #1 : “Are you willing to accept it without complaint when a Republican Administration gets in and, say, requires you to buy a handgun or requires 6 weeks of mandatory counseling prior to getting an abortion because both of those things “affect” interstate commerce?”

  • Well, you know Terry, when it comes to interstate commerce and the Supreme Court, your comment affects interstate commerce.

    • Only if it is effective.  Judging from the number of converts I have created, it’s not particularly effective!

  • Unenforceable – take your ‘refund’ – and probably get around to garnishing your wages.  This is the IRS, your money is their money until they allow otherwise.
     
    Sure, take em to court, meanwhile they have your money and no one is going to tell them NO when they show up to take your paycheck or freeze your bank accounts.  Guilty until proven innocent with the IRS.
     
    Unenforceable…heh…the same people who sent out agents to collect on a 4 cent debt.

  • I always owe extra – I don’t make interest free loans.

  • “Congress was very careful to make sure there was nothing too punitive in this bill.”

    Where to start with this drivel???
    First of all, I have a fondness for law and order: laws are made to be upheld and, when necessary, enforced.  If there is no intent to uphold the law, then it shouldn’t be on the books.  This idiot statement by the IRS commissioner smacks of, “We’ll kinda-sorta uphold the law, but only if you’re REALLY bad.”
    Second, who defines what is or isn’t “too punitive”?  I think most people have a very natural and reasonable fear of the IRS, and ANY communication from that agency aside from “Here’s your refund check” is (ahem) undesirable and unwelcome.

    Third, this stupid health care takeover depends on people paying into it, whether in the form of taxes, fines, premiums, etc.  So, enforcement may not be “too punitive” today, but I think we can bet that it’ll get pretty damned punitive if the money doesn’t roll in fast enough.