Health Care Reform: Because the IRS Isn't Big Enough Yet


From Kaiser Health News:

Internal Revenue Service agents already try to catch tax cheats and moonshiners. Under the proposed health care legislation, they would get another assignment: checking to see whether Americans have health insurance.

The House and Senate bills require most Americans to have health insurance and to prove it on their annual federal tax return. Those who don't would pay a penalty to the IRS.

That's one of several key duties the IRS would assume under the bills that have been approved by the House and Senate and will be merged by negotiators from both chambers.

The agency also would distribute as much as $140 billion a year in new government subsidies to help small employers and as many as 19 million lower-income people buy coverage.

In addition, the IRS would collect hundreds of billions of dollars in new fees on employers, drug companies and device makers, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). 

Nor is it even clear the underperforming agency could handle the new responsibilities:

"It's hard to see how the IRS could take on the huge responsibility it would be given under pending health care legislation without some real glitches, or worse," said Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee who voted against the bill with every other Republican senator.

…The IRS already has trouble meeting its primary duty: collecting taxes. By the IRS's own estimates, it failed to collect about $290 billion in taxes in 2005, the latest year for which data are available. Pete Sepp, spokesman for the National Taxpayers Union, an IRS watchdog group, says the IRS might be the "logical" agency to enforce the mandate, "but that doesn't mean things will go smoothly."

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  1. If i ever acquire some sort of marketable skill or talent that i’m able to parlay into self employment, you better believe i won’t be paying taxes anymore. Yeah, the IRS might catch me and i’d have to do time as Secretary of the Treasury or something, but i think it’d be worth it.

  2. Damn, the IRS wears some gaudy blazers.

    “It’s hard to see how the IRS could take on the huge responsibility it would be given under pending health care legislation…”

    Sounds like we’ve got some more (Federal) jobs being created in the coming years!

  3. I was talking to a friend of my wife’s this week. She lives in Boston and is thus subject to Masscare. Her live in boyfriend is a journalist and is between jobs. He is paying the bills by doing contract work. He is in his early 30s and healthy. He is precisely the kind of person (young healthy short on income) who would rationally choose not to buy health insurance. But NOOO he can’t do that. Masscare, like Obamacare, requires him to buy health insurance. And not just any health insurance. He has to buy gold plated health insurance that runs $500 a month. Not to fear big government lovers say because he can get a supplement from the state to buy health insurance since his income is low. The only problem is that the state of Massachusetts can’t run the program properly and is three to five months behind paying out supplements. In the mean time, he has to pay his $500 a month insurance premiums until the state coughs up the money.

    Basically Masscare has taken a guy who was a bit down on his luck but still working and paying his own way and by law made him a welfare queen. He never asked anyone for help and never wanted to either buy insurance or be on welfare to get it. And since the government can’t get run the program properly, have turned him into a potential criminal if he doesn’t have the money to pay his health insurance premiums that the state insists he buy. Your government at work.

    1. Sounds like a compelling reason to relocate out of Massachusetts. Or the USA.


      1. Relocating out of Mass is a good idea. But, the problem with leaving the country is that most other countries are worse.

    2. What if he tells them to fuck off, he’s not required under the Constitution to buy anything?

      Or move out of Massachusetts — always an option to consider.

      1. I like both those ideas. But, I can’t blame the guy for not wanting to be a civil rights martyr. And they are both from there. They shouldn’t have to be run out of their home state by Mitt Romney’s dumb ass attempt to show he was a centrist.

    3. If people are ticked off now, I can’t wait until they find out that soon their premiums will be going up, possibly by thousands of dollars a year.

      1. If the government requires insurance companies to allow pre-existing conditions, there won’t be a solvent insurance company before the first year is over. That is when Uncle Sam becomes everyone’s insurance agent.

        1. Which is precisely what the lefties want to happen.

  4. 2005, the latest year for which data are available.

    Are the last four years actually unavailable, or is the IRS not willing to tell anyone what the current figures are?


    1. We’re working on it.

  5. The number one job requirement for Congress is apparently a belief in magic.

  6. So we get a huge expansion of the IRS too? I am cranky today and have only one question. Where the fuck is all the money gonna come from to fund all this shit?

    1. It comes out of Uncle Sam’s $2 trillion hat, silly.

      1. It will come out of the higher taxes you RICH PEOPLE need to be paying. Government is Good, and must be funded no matter how big it gets – and it can never get too big.

  7. Where the fuck is all the money gonna come from to fund all this shit?

    “Hey, Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit outta muh hat!”

    1. Our entire government is based on voluntary taxation. If a large number of people started refusing to pay their taxes, the government would be screwed. There are a lot of people out there who don’t have health insurance and don’t want to buy it. If all or even a good percentage of them said screw it and dropped out of the tax system, the government will be in a lot of trouble.

        1. That is the thing. Right now no one will drop out of the tax system because no one wants to be the first guy shot. We are like a huge mob being ordered around by a guy with a two shot derringer. Yeah, if we all rushed him, he would be done. But so would the first two of us who rushed him. Obamacare is so egregious that it might leave a large number of people with no choice but to stop paying the IRS. Once that happens, you quickly get to a tipping point where so many people are disobeying that there is no risk to doing so. And that is the end of the tax system and the government with it. That would of course be a terrible thing for the country. And it is still unlikely to happen. But, Obamacare is creating a pretty needless risk of it occurring.

          1. “”Once that happens, you quickly get to a tipping point where so many people are disobeying that there is no risk to doing so.””

            These guy’s probably thought the same thing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiskey_Rebellion

            The U.S. government will use all resources including the military to survive. That’s the rub. Your rebellion will be put down. Forget about being the first shot, few want to be shot at all.

            1. Even talking about a tax revolt is tantamount to treason. You greedy bastards need to be arrested for even discussing it.

            2. The whiskey rebellion was different. It was one group of people in one place. No government, no matter how powerful, can survive true widespread civil disobedience. Even if you had the will, which this government doesn’t, you can’t just shoot everyone. And military would be worthless in putting down a tax revolt. The military is good at stopping riots. But it is pretty useless in making millions of people pay their taxes. I suppose they could just go out and start randomly dragging people out their homes and shooting them. But, our military wouldn’t do that and no President would order as much. If millions of people put their exemptions at zero and just stopped filing taxes, there wouldn’t be a damn thing the government could do about it.

              1. The government is good at seizing things by force. Which they will do for those who don’t pay taxes. And for the most part, people understand taxes are necessary, it’s the amount of taxation that becomes the real problem. Even our founding fathers knew taxing is necessary for a modern (even by late 18th century standards) society. That’s why they gave Congress the power to tax in Article 1 of the Constitution.

                They don’t have to drag people out of their house either. You serverly punish a few and give everyone else amnesty for compliance.

                1. You greedy bastards don’t pay enough as it is, and here you are bitching. *I* pay more than MY fair share, because I’m paid too much and I feel like a dirty little girl that needs to be spanked by big, hairy IRS agents.

              2. Haven’t you read 1984? You don’t kill them, you rehabilitate and then give them a better job so they love you more. 😉

              3. They just practiced doing that for 5 years in Iraq.

                Get list of names.
                Kick down doors.
                Shoot any resisters.
                Drag away people on list of names.
                Declare success.

                1. Why do you think I really want the troops out of Iraq, Fluffy?

      1. It would not be hard to organize this.

        Get about 10-50k people committed to it and it would snowball from there.

        1. Except even organizing such a thing will probably land you in jail. And then everybody will call you a crank and ignore you.

          1. I know I’m going to feel foolish for saying this, but how can the act of organizing a don’t-pay-taxes effort be an arrestable offense as the laws are written? (I don’t know all the laws, and wouldn’t be surprised if there are such in place, but still…)

            We’re not talking about violence of any sort here. Since people won’t get hurt (unless some Tonyites start trouble), I don’t see where the harm to people or property come into play.

            Then again, it’s probably listed as a terrorist activity, so this may be a moot point.

      2. OK:

        Step 1: Identify or develop a skill that you can turn into a small business.
        Step 2a: If your business is a local sort of thing (e.g., furniture repair, plumber), transact all of it in cash.
        Step 2b: If your business is more of the mail-order variety, transact all of it in money orders.

        Problem solved.

        1. Step 3: Pray that none of your [competitors | nosy neighbors | anyone who has a grudge against you ] report you to the IRS.

          1. Pray that your UBS banker doesnt report you to the IRS. (yeah, I watched part of 60 minutes last night)

            1. Yeah, I shut the TV off once I was done laughing at the Broncos in general and Kyle Orton in particular, so I missed it. Go Bears!

              1. DAAAAAAAAAAABearsdaBearsdaBearsdaBearssss!!!

  8. I would think “The I.R.S. will now be in charge of your health insurance,” would be a good rallying cry for the anti forces.

  9. Let me tell you how it will be,
    A spleen for you nineteen for me…

  10. By the IRS’s own estimates, it failed to collect about $290 billion in taxes in 2005, the latest year for which data are available.

    What these idiots either cannot figure out, or are too dishonest to admit, is that much of this shortfall is not willful refusal to pay, but inability to comprehend and comply with the fucking rules. And they are busily adding more confusion.

    1. I think we need to change the way this statement is framed. “By the IRS’s own estimates, it SUCCEEDED in not collecting about $290 billion…”

      And for some reason, “Top. Men.” always hyperlinks to gay sex in my brain.

  11. Taxes should be voluntary contributions; the equivalent of a tip jar on every bureaucrat’s desk. (Not, as we have currently, tip jars on the desks of Congressmen and Senators, crammed full of loot by lobbyists.)

  12. Wow, this is pretty scary stuff dude!


    1. I swear the Reason staff must own stock in anonymity bot. How hard could it be to put a block on that IP address?

    2. Kids on drugs is so sad.

      1. I disagree. They makes me rather happy : }

  13. And that is the end of the tax system and the government with it. That would of course be a terrible thing for the country.

    [citation needed]

    1. You do need a government. And once it is gone, it is a real bitch to build it again.

      1. Your right, and not just need, people want a government, dispite how much they bitch about it. As soon as people dispose of the current government, they will want to form another.

      2. I shudder to think of the government that would be built by our politicians today. And that’s assuming you don’t just have a military strongman take over and become dictator.

        1. I agree.

          A new Constitution would be loaded with lobbist favors. As Frank Zappa said, They only look out for number one, and you ain’t even number two.

  14. At least they didn’t put enforcement in the Department of Homeland Security.

  15. Maybe the TSA could just take twenty per cent of what you have in your wallet when you put it in the x-ray tub.

  16. Well at least I know who to shoot at when I decide to not buy health insurance.

  17. If millions of people put their exemptions at zero and just stopped filing taxes, there wouldn’t be a damn thing the government could do about it.

    Unfortunately, this is untrue. The IRS doesn’t worry about warrants or due process when they empty your bank and brokerage accounts; neither do they worry about that when they notify your employer to send your paychecks to them, instead of you.

    They decide whether you owe, and how much; then they take it.

    If you want to live in your car and do odd jobs for cash, you might be okay.

    1. The jobs aren’t that odd.

  18. Oh, this is just the beginning…

  19. As soon as people dispose of the current government, they will want to form another.

    Otherwise, they would be forced to assume responsibility for themselves. That won’t happen.

    1. The government we have now will look like friggin Libertopia compared to what would arise from its ashes. Think the Mafia with somewhat less politeness and restraint.

      Oh, I can hear the reply already. I HAVE A GUN! I AM INVINCIBLE! I AM TEH RUGGED INDIVIDUAL! A gun is a good defense when you’ve got society and the full force of the law on your side (ie, against a burglar who has to get in, get out, and get away without being seen). Not going to be the case when the state you despise has withered away.

      1. I’ll just paraphrase a comment made by the departed TWC. If the next revolution starts, it won’t matter who wins. People like us will be on the wrong side of the barricades in any event.

        1. It’s better to burn out, than to fade away!

  20. It strikes me as ironic that if the Feds stay on the path they’re treading, in the not-too-distant future the paper dollars they seize from us won’t be worth jack shit anyway. And it’ll be their own damn fault.

    1. That’s says something about your value as an employee too. Your work won’t be worth shit since you will be paid in those worthless dollars.

      Of course you could run to Mexico where the peso might be worth more. But that damn fence will be in your way.

      1. Get rid of paper money = good-bye underground economy/black-market/freedom in general.

        And capitalism, which would make Chony happy.

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