There’s a certain amount of perhaps bafflement in this sentence.
If you receive government assistance in the state of Maine, Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald thinks the public has a right to know about it.
It’s not that the author disagrees with Mayor Macdonald. I’m a little leery of the possible ways that this sort of thing can be botched, myself*. But I get the general impression that the Washington Post takes it as a personal affront that we’re even having this conversation in the first place. Alas for the paper and the government, the brutal truth of things are that people who pay taxes often want to know where, and to whom, that tax money is being spent. And that it’s actually up to the people who want to use that money to properly reassure the rest of us that that tax money is being spent properly. There’s far too much evidence these days that it’s not, you see.
Just the way it is.
*Let us not pretend that good ideas can’t be botched, sufficiently so that it would have been better not to try them in the first place.
Raise your hand, everybody who’s surprised: “Three years after California voters passed a ballot measure to raise taxes on corporations and generate clean-energy jobs by funding energy-efficiency projects in schools, barely one-tenth of the promised jobs have been created, and the state has no comprehensive list to show how much work has been done or how much energy has been saved.”
…What? I was surprised. I would have personally bet that California wouldn’t manage to get past one-twentieth. To get a whole one-tenth must have involved people with whips. Or possibly cattle prods.
Continue reading Shocker: Californian green job tax ‘didn’t work.’ Unless ‘impact crater’ counts.
OK, strictly speaking it also could be fairly called a ‘husband tax’ or a ‘spouse tax.’ You may also quibble on the ‘tax’ bit, largely because this is being done to avoid a tax. But, hey: no Republican voted for this monstrosity, remember? So I’m admittedly a little indifferent to any Democratic pain over the nomenclature.
To avoid the Affordable Care Act’s so-called “Cadillac tax” on rich benefit plans, companies are adding surcharges of $100 a month or more to wives and husbands of workers, hoping spouses will seek coverage elsewhere,new employer data shows.
The idea behind the so-called “spousal surcharge” employers are implementing is to reduce the number of people an employer covers so the company can save money and avoid triggering the special excise tax for plans with high cost benefits.
Continue reading Obamacare’s implicit $1,200/year ‘wife tax.’
Well, it’s going to be exciting to everybody who lives outside of Chicago.
As of July 1, 2015, citizens of Chicago who enjoy their Netflix, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Prime, Xbox Live, and/or PlayStation Network subscriptions are now subject to the city’s 9 percent “Amusement Tax” for the privilege. Further, should you decide to digitally rent a movie or videogame via these services, the 9 percent tax would be applied for every rental. In other words, Chicago now taxes its citizens 9 percent on their $99 annual Amazon Prime subscription because of its instant video/music service, plus 9 percent for each $3.99 digital rental through the same service. The same applies for rentals and music services offered directly from Microsoft and Sony. Fans of Sony’s PlayStation Network ecosystem are hit hardest: a 9 percent tax each on their PlayStation Plus subscription, PlayStation Music, PlayStation Now (videogame streaming), and Sony’s recently introduced PlayStation Vue live-TV service. Throw in other rental/subscription services such as Hulu, Gamefly, Google Play, HBO Go, iTunes, and Vudu, and you get a sense of the sheer breadth of this tax on Chicago consumers’ digital lives.
So, basically, avoid living in Chicago if you enjoy living in the 21st Century. Or working in it, because they’re also going to tax the cloud. That’s why everybody outside of Chicago is excited about this. It’s not every day that a major city decides to deliberately drive non-geographically fixed companies out to the suburbs.
I don’t know whether it matters if you score this as ten out of eleven, or ‘merely’ five: either way… Houston, we have a problem.
The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office says 11 counterfeit characters that its investigators created last year were automatically re-enrolled by HealthCare.gov. In Obama’s terms, they got to keep the coverage they had.
Six of those later were flagged and sent termination notices. But GAO said it was able to get five of them reinstated, by calling HealthCare.gov’s consumer service center. The five even got their monthly subsidies bumped up a bit, although GAO did not ask for it. The case of the sixth fake enrollee was under review.
The GAO’s sardonic conclusion of the problem (I don’t know if it’s a direct quote or not) can be found in the title of this post. But let us not pretend that successful fraudulent applications represent a flaw in the system: they are, in fact, part of the system. Lest we forget (which is admittedly hard to do): Obamacare is a government program. In fact, it’s a government program that the current government is absolutely desperate to have succeed. The only way to keep the whole thing from collapsing into a fetid heap of delayed verification is to approve any application that does not have HELLO, MY NAME IS [NAME] AND I WISH TO COMMIT TAX FRAUD scrawled across it in big, shaky red letters.
Huh. The GAO should have done exactly that as a test, just to see how many of those would have gotten through. Although, to be fair I don’t imagine that more than two out of eleven. Maybe three. Four if circumstances were perfectly aligned.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
PS: For extra horrified laughter: the administration informed GAO that the company running Healthcare.gov aren’t set up to detect fraud, but that there’s no meaningful level of fraud anyway so that’s all right. No, I’m not sure how they’re determining that, either. Maybe Tarot cards?
PPS: Good news, though: “The fake enrollees also got some perplexing instructions from HealthCare.gov. Eight of the 11 were asked to submit additional documentation to prove their citizenship and identity. But the list of suitable paperwork detailed documents for verifying income instead.” So at least anybody out there committing tax fraud will have to deal with just as much government ineptitude as the rest of us…
From the I told you so section of the news comes a report that the Obama administration is having trouble convincing people to buy insurance, or pay a fine – despite the fact that they’ve extended the window to buy coverage. Why? Well…
This is the first year fines are being collected from uninsured people the government deems able to afford coverage. Tax preparation company H&R Block says the penalty averages about $170 among its affected customers. It usually is deducted from a person’s tax refund.
Those penalized are mainly the kind of people the law was intended to help: low- and middle-income workers who do not have coverage on the job or are self-employed. Roughly 4 million people are expected to pay fines, according to congressional estimates.
Basically, in June of 2014 CNN reported that the average monthly Bronze Obamacare payment after subsidies was $82, or $984/year. That is significantly more than the 2014 penalty. That’s also significantly more than the $325/year minimum penalty for this year. Turns out that the administration miscalculated just how much of a deterrent the fine fine was; which is pretty much par for the course for this administration, huh? Continue reading American poor does math, realizes that Obamacare tax is still cheaper than Obamacare.
And it’s a sockeldanger.
Line 6: it’s official and the federal government has to admit it. The individual mandate is a tax. That means that changing it even by a penny is – no fooling, seriously, this is not something that you can just executive-order away – only possible via an Act of Congress. This will not happen (Obamacare was designed to keep Republicans out of the loop for as long as possible) which means that the current very low penalties for noncompliance are never going to get any higher.
Shoot, at the rate things are going paying the fine and getting insurance on your own will be a pretty good deal. Assuming, of course, that the Supreme Court doesn’t make the whole thing moot by declaring that the individual mandate is invalid in federal exchange states*.
*Yup, Halbig. If the government can’t provide subsidies to a state that doesn’t have an exchange, effectively the mandate goes away for that state. Dang but the Democrats are bad at writing legislation, huh?
Shot (December 2013):
Despite his administration’s quiet move overnight to ease the individual mandate for some Americans, President Obama said today the requirement will “absolutely” be enforced starting April 1, 2014, when everyone must have health insurance or pay a fine.
Speaking at an end-of-year news conference, the president insisted that there will be no delay of the mandate as some Republicans have repeatedly called for.
Chaser (February 2014):
…it’s not clear that the IRS will deploy much in the way of resources to aggressively search for individuals who don’t get coverage this first year. Enforcement of the individual mandate likely will be a huge challenge for the agency, both because of the difficulties in figuring out who doesn’t have insurance and the political problems it would pose for the Obama administration.
“I’d be very surprised if there’s much in the way of enforcement. It just doesn’t seem plausible,” said Federal Policy Group Managing Director Ken Kies, a former top congressional aide. “The IRS is in a tough spot. They don’t have the resources to do this. This is a whole different responsibility for them they never had before.”
Continue reading Dueling narratives on individual mandate tax enforcement. #obamacare
(H/T: Hot Air) It’s nice to see this finally making the mainstream press.
[The Obamacare tax] tax will generally be far lower than ObamaCare premiums. That’s the clear conclusion of a new study by the 2017 Project, which compares premiums in the ObamaCare exchanges in the 50 most populous US counties to the tax that households could pay instead.
This year, that tax equals the greater of two numbers: 1) $95 per adult in a household, plus half of that amount for each child, up to $285 for an entire household, or 2) 1 percent of household income in excess of the tax-filing threshold ($10,150 for singles, and $20,300 for married couples).
So, for instance, a 31-year-old single man making $30,000 in Columbus, Ohio faces a tax of $198.50, more than $2,000 less than the cheapest option in Ohio’s ObamaCare exchange, even including his taxpayer-funded subsidy. For a 36-year-old San Diego woman making $40,000, the tax is $298.50, or nearly $2,400 less than the cheapest policy on the California exchange. She’s not eligible for a subsidy.
Continue reading New York Post discovers the collapsing #obamacare individual mandate scenario.