Yes, Virginia, It Really Is a Tax
posted at 2:44 pm on September 25, 2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh
Yesterday, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV, 92%) interrogated one Thomas Barthold, chief of staff for the Joint Committee on Taxation; Ensign wanted to know whether the Internal Revenue Service was responsible for enforcing the ObamaCare provision requiring individuals to pay a “penalty” of $1,900 if they fail to purchase an “approved” health-care plan.
Why is this important? Because if it falls to the IRS to enforce that rule, then both the requirement to purchase and the penalty if you don’t are indeed “taxes.” Failure to pay the $1,900 penalty gets you a fine of up to $25,000.
(I’m not sure which ObamaCare plan this refers to; the House plan is the only one where a completed bill was actually voted on — it passed in the House, of course.)
Barthold confirmed that indeed, the IRS will enforce payment of the nineteen hundred smackeroos — and if you fail to pay it, the IRS will prosecute… and you could even be sent to jail for failing to pay, just as if you failed to pay any other tax. From the first Political post linked above:
Ensign pursued the line of questioning because he said a lot of Americans don’t believe the Constitution allows the government to mandate the purchase of insurance.
“We could be subjecting those very people who conscientiously, because they believe in the U.S. Constitution, we could be subjecting them to fines or the interpretation of a judge, all the way up to imprisonment,” Ensign said. “That seems to me to be a problem.”
I presume the IRS will also enforce the similar provision mandating businesses, including small businesses (even Mom & Pop stores), to offer “approved” health insurance to their employees; I don’t know what the penalties are for failing to do so.
In a follow-up Politico post, Barthold confirmed to Ensign that indeed, the possible penalties included jail time:
Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and could face up to a year in jail or a $25,000 penalty, Barthold wrote on JCT letterhead. He signed it “Sincerely, Thomas A. Barthold.”
The Joint Committee on Taxation has both senators and representatives (which is why they call it a “joint” committee); it’s chaired by Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY, 100%) and vice-chaired by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT, 80%); the committee comprises three each Democratic senators and representatives, and two each Republican senators and reps.
So the next time some chowderheaded clown — or the president — denies that the individual and employer mandates in ObamaCare are massive middle-class tax increases, shove this post in his face and make him read it!
Cross-posted to Big Lizards…