Obama Administration Didn't Know When Obamacare's Mandate Penalty Deadline Was Until a Tax Prep Firm Told Them



There's a terrifying detail in yesterday's Politico story about the ongoing problems with the exchanges.

The deadline to apply to enroll in health coverage and not pay a penalty next year is not the same deadline as the end of the open enrollment period, March 31. It's actually February 15. Which means that while you can still enroll after February 15, you'll have to pay the penalty for going uninsured if you finish your application after that date.

What's terrifying isn't the earlier date itself, but the facepalm-worthy fact that the administration, including the Internal Revenue Service, seems not have known about the earlier date until very recently when it was pointed out to them. From the Politico piece:

In general, Americans have until the end of March to enroll in a 2014 Obamacare plan, but to avoid a tax penalty, they'll have to sign up by mid-February. This quirk, unearthed by industry observers, appears to have gone previously unnoticed by the administration.

"The IRS didn't know that," said Jackson Hewitt Vice President Brian Haile, who recently brought the issue to the administration's attention.

The AP's Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar actually first reported this story about a week ago. His story makes it pretty clear that the administration was surprised to learn about the earlier date, and was only made aware of it when an outside tax prep firm informed them.

So it took a private tax firm to realize—after three years of administration work on the law's implementation—what the applicable tax law really is. 

This says something about the daunting level of complexity in the tax code. And it's more than a little suggestive about the level of (in)competence that is apparently going into what is arguably the largest and most complex bureaucratic endeavor in the nation's history. 

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  1. The tax code is too complex. But it is not quantum theory. It is not that hard to figure out. There are thousands of tax lawyers who do just fine with it and not all or even many of them are geniuses. The Obama people are incompetent and lazy.

    1. There are thousands of tax lawyers out there because the code is too complex. With a simple tax system, they would have to find work that might actually add value to the economy.

    2. I took every tax class I could in law school and enjoyed it. You’re right, it’s not that hard but it does require focus and time. So if all you’re doing is skimming some regs then of course you’re going to fuck it up.

      1. I took every tax class I could in law school and enjoyed it.

        You freak.

        1. Agreed. I’m currently taking every tax class possible to get my accounting master’s; actually reading the regs is the worst part, and I imagine that’s all law school tax classes are.

          1. Having taken tax classes in law school, they are “fun” in a controlled law school environment in the way that a jigsaw puzzle is fun. When you have to apply the regulations, statutes, cases, revenue rulings, etc, to real life, where real people are involved and can get hurt…that’s a different story.

    3. Really? I dealt with many tax cpas in my career and many issues were not clear cut at all. Lots of times, the answer was “Let’s try it and see if the IRS challenges it.”

      1. This. There’s black, white, and grey. As a business owner, you keep the white, you pay the black, and you hold on to the grey.

      2. Sure there are grey areas. But this was not one of them. And even if it were, it is not hard to figure out the alternative answers. They are lazy and stupid.

        1. These aren’t mutually exclusive positions.

          There literally isn’t a single person, including tax lawyers, who actually understands every line of the tax code. You really have to specialize in some particular niche of tax law, be it industry-specific or regulation-specific, to grasp the full complexity of any given subset of our tax code. That being said, obviously the people who wrote this particular section of the tax code should obviously be the first specialists in the area and certainly shouldn’t have to have their own rules explained to them by industry specialists.

          1. This. I work at a smaller firm now where I am forced to be more of a generalist, so when someone asks me, say an in depth payroll tax question it takes me forever to read through all the shit that I am unfamiliar with to answer the question.

            When I worked in Big 4, I just had to forward the question to some specialist within the firm and receive an answer within minutes.

            1. “When I worked in Big 4, I just had to forward the question to some specialist within the firm and receive an answer within minutes.”
              Did you ever try two of the specialists to see if you got the same answer?

      3. And if you’re Warren Buffet owning NetJets, that gets followed by “and after the IRS challenges it, we fight them in Tax Court. And after we fight in Tax Court and lose, we refuse to pay for years, and then we get a friendly Congress to clarify the rules in our favor.”

        Not that I completely blame them, but most people don’t have the money to do that.

        1. I wouldn’t blame Buffet if he weren’t a total statist on everything else.

          1. He did actually recently say that Obamacare should be delayed or thrown out and we start over.

            Strangely, that one didn’t get widespread media coverage.

  2. So it took a private tax firm to realize?after three years of implementation?what the applicable tax law really is.

    They’ve got to implement it to find out what’s in it!

    On a semirelated note, after about 4 months and sending the same documentation in, the IRS finally realized this week that that was a legitimate deduction I took so I didn’t owe them any money or late fees.

    1. So they are going to pay you for your labor and postage/copying expenses right? 🙂

      1. I’m just lucky they aren’t billing me for the time it took someone to read the same documentation 3 times.

  3. derp…


    1. Will they even bother to put the mask back on?

      1. No

      2. I think 2014 will be a test-run to see how they do with it off.

      3. Someone should ask them if this applies to the administration’s employer delay and multiple waivers.

      4. Needz more CAMPZ!

    2. The teabaggers need to understand that we are a nation of law, NOT of mob rule. What Treasonous Teddy and the teabaggers is the textbook definition of sedition and for ONCE, they should be held accountable. And take the Wasilly Hillbilly with them as well

      Yes, that’s right, in order to be a nation of law and not a nation of mob rule, we have to hold a people’s tribunal and charge legislators with failing to legislate correctly.

      1. And we have to hurl playground insults at them.

      2. Jesus, they are still obsessed with Palin. I’m not a fan of hers, but damn, does she piss off the right people.

      3. DEMOCRACY!! Support your local lynch mob and be part of the process! Same day registration available!

      4. So, the leftists want a government of laws, not of men. Good. Imagine how messed up it would be if politicians could pass any law they wanted in the name of morality or the public good or the betterment of the world or whatever claptrap they think of to get votes and pad their r?sum?s… the concept of Natural Law & negative rights (except for the positive right to have negative rights enforced) & punishing non-consensual behaviour would take a back seat to things like speed limits to reduce gas consumption, salt bans and vast swaths of un-farmed forests sitting there to protect some owl that’s no longer endangered.
        Meanwhile I’m sure the police officer who investigates your house to make sure you aren’t operating an illegal restaurant will get the same amount of respect as a homicide detective.

      5. OK stupid, than we need to round up the mob leader Obama and finally hold him accountable for his failings like the ACA. Obama is the Dictator using the mob rule mentality to get his way. You got blinders on if you can’t see it.

    3. Is sedition even a crime in the US?

      1. Seditious conspiracy is a crime. But try to convince the courts that a legislator failing to vote “the right way” is seditious.

        1. A people’s court wouldn’t be too hard to convince.

          1. If it actually comes to that, the members of the people’s court had get their own food tasters.

            1. Don’t worry, it’s only a sentencing hearing anyway.

    4. addictinginfo? In the words of a great philosopher, “nigga please”

    5. I don’t even….

    6. Seeing shit like this honestly scares me a little

    7. This comment says it all:

      I applaud the Great and True Leader of America: Barrack Hussein Obama for standing up to the Right Wing Terrorists (Tea Baggers)!
      And I also thank the Democratic Party for growing a spine! Thank you one and all.

      1. This kind of thinking is truly the downfall of America and the failure of our education system.

  4. Can we just text mine the tax code? Data science ftw

    But the idea that the law, let alone the tax code by itself, would be considered “big data” is insane.

  5. Feature, not a bug.

  6. Maybe Judge Roberts should have changed the date to April 15 to match tax filing day when he changed this from a penalty to a tax?

    1. That would be judicial activism.

      1. Yeah. Activism! Also the health tax is only three-fifths of a tax anyways.

      2. More like judicial anarchism

  7. This quirk, unearthed by industry observers, appears to have gone previously unnoticed by the administration.

    I hope you’re not trying to insinuate some sort of duty on Congress’ part to actually know what’s in the Bills they pass (or the President, on those he signs), Shirley.

  8. So it took a private tax firm to realize?after three years of implementation?what the applicable tax law really is.


  9. I don’t want to hear any more talk about delaying any aspect of ObamaCare.

    If Obama wants to delay any aspect of this legislation at this point, we should oppose him.

    Obama made his bed. The Democrats made their bed. And they’re all really good at lying.

    1. I give you people gold.

      1. There’s a Jewish joke somewhere in there…

  10. Obots: ‘Yawn. Did I tell you how dreamy he is?’

  11. “Didn’t we warn you crazy nihilist teabaggers that a free-market health-case system doesn’t work? Why did you force us to pass a free-market-oriented bill? Can’t we get together on a bipartisan basis and pass single-payer health care?”

  12. Fun with Obamacare…. See comments…

    1. Insurance with limits is crap insurance.

      I stopped there. Hopefully I’ve been able to limit the brain damage.


      1. All those people should refuse to buy insurance until the free market produces a product they are willing to buy. At least that’s how a real free market would treat their demand.

        Unfortunately, we have a gamed system where the state removes competition which limits the need for companies “allowed” to participate to offer products the market is calling for. Add in the compulsory part of the equation and the consumer is left with even less of a choice.

        Basically it’s like having Comcast for your most important non-discretionary purchase. No, it’s like having the love child of Comcast and US Airways be the only company you can use for the most important non-discretionary purchase you can make.

        1. That is truly awesome – a billion times a billion awesome. Fuck.

      2. All-you-can-eat buffet without limits is a crap buffet.

        Yep, we all just got served a crap buffet. A buffet of entrees made of crap, if I make myself clear.

        1. I’m wracking my brain trying to get the reference you called me out with in the AM Links. I’m drawing a blank and it’s starting to really irritate me.
          What the fuck were you on about?

          1. The roundabout may have been in London, as you wrote, but you stood at the gates of delirium and refused to acknowledge my puns. I guess I get five percent for nothing.

      3. If they’re providing more benefits, then it makes sense that rates will increase.
        If you rented an apartment at $700 a month and then management installed new countertops and cabinets, they would up the rent to match comparable properties in the same market.

        “Here’s the new countertops you didn’t ask for. That’ll be $300.”

    2. Hahaha, joe from lowell is the second post.

      1. The reason is, your policy did not have the minimum provisions required in Obamacare. Therefore, that particular policy will no longer exist under the new law.

        You can’t blame Obamacare because you selected substandard insurance. And remember, those who have no insurance at all will be getting a 100% premium increase. However, the vast majority of them are grateful they can finally get insurance.

        You likely qualify for subsidies, if you’re too stubborn to take them, that’s on you.

        What about being able to keep your policy if you like it? And I love how it’s not Obamacare’s fault, it’s the OP for having a “substandard” plan (as deigned by Obamacare).

        1. Can’t get their bread anymore? Let them eat cake with government subsidies to help them buy it.

        2. Kulak wreckers buying substandard insurance just to make Obama look bad!

          1. I know right. Sadly my wife and I are part of that group. I guess it’s off to the reeducation center for us comrade!

            1. Well, I see none of you took my advice. I hope your brains are OK!

              1. Mine was already damaged by sudafed and lack of sleep. But it held up okay.

  13. The real downside to this “shutdown” and “debt crisis” is that Obama’s flagrant NSA abuses that were unearthed again this week went largely ignored and will not be reported on with a intensity at all. And this was a big one, too.

    I know the budget fight was worth fighting, but if they had no intention of fighting it to win, the leas they could have done was cave right away so as not to mask the next scandal coming down the pike…and they had to know there was another one coming with Snowden and Greenwald not being assassinated yet.

    1. Who says the want those scandals exposed?

      1. They better want them exposed if they want to have a chance at winning seats in 2014.

        1. But if they make a big deal about them how could they do the same thing when they get power?

          Oh, wait – that’s exactly what happened with the current president. So maybe you’re right.

    2. Cheer up, Glenn says the worst is yet to come.

      I suspect he’ll drop something really fucking evil right ahead of Thanksgiving.

  14. Insurance with limits is crap insurance.

    Obama comments at Kos?

    1. A bank account without infinite deposits is a crap account.

  15. It’s ridiculous to think my insurance company won’t pay fifteen thousand dollars to restore my twenty year old Honda if a deer jumps out in front of me. Declare it totaled, and give me a check for $532.60?


  16. All-you-can-eat buffet without limits is a crap buffet.

    “What do you mean, I have to pay again? I paid yesterday. It says ‘ALL YOU CAN EAT’ not ‘all you can eat TODAY’!”

    1. At least that is a somewhat coherent argument.

  17. Sounds like how taxes work period. Just a bunch of paper and a lot of crap. Some of it says you don’t have to pay taxes. Some of it says you do. In the end, it’s all theft.

  18. The people on Daily Kos are the sort of people who borrow money from you to pay for school and then turn around go get a tattoo on their foot or neck. When you ask for your money back they spin and act indignant you would dare do so.

    Generalization, yes. But judging from the depraved ignorance of the comments, I’m gonna assume that’s closer to the truth.

    I know plenty of people who think like this around me and I stay damn clear of them. They’re so idiotic I can see why they want the government to take care of them.

  19. Given how well this is rolling out, we can infer that the roll out into providing actual healthcare will also be filled with problems. Like when you get an appointment to examine your hurting appendix for next week, we can expect they’ll give you the wrong date then as well. Then after showing up and them telling you the appointment is for some other time and you reschedule again, then you show up and they send you to the wrong doctor. It’ll keep going that way until they send in the wrong coroner to pick up your body, and instead get a necrophiliac that works for the government, picking up your dead body instead.

  20. just as Carol responded I didn’t know that people can make $6819 in 1 month on the computer. read this

  21. Why hasn’t anyone investigated who actually wrote this law? Someone should find out and publish a list of the names of everyone who actually wrote this thing. We know Congress didn’t even read it. So who wrote it?

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