• Tag Archives IRS
  • A health law fine on the uninsured will more than double

    The math is harsh: The federal penalty for having no health insurance is set to jump to $695, and the Obama administration is being urged to highlight that cold fact in its new pitch for health law sign-ups.

    That means the 2016 sign-up season starting Nov. 1 could see penalties become a bigger focus for millions of people who have remained eligible for coverage, but uninsured. They’re said to be squeezed for money, and skeptical about spending what they have on health insurance.

    Until now, health overhaul supporters have stressed the benefits: taxpayer subsidies that pay roughly 70 percent of the monthly premium, financial protection against sudden illness or an accident, and access to regular preventive and follow-up medical care.

    But in 2016, the penalty for being uninsured will rise to the greater of either $695 or 2.5 percent of taxable income. That’s for someone without coverage for a full 12 months. This year the comparable numbers are $325 or 2 percent of income.

    Marketing usually involves stressing the positive. Rising penalties meet no one’s definition of good news. Still, that may create a new pitch:

    The math is pretty clear. A consumer would be able to get six months or more of coverage for $695, instead of owing that amount to the IRS as a tax penalty. (That example is based on subsidized customers now putting in an average of about $100 a month of their own money.)

    Backers of the law are urging the administration to drive the math lesson home.

    “Given that the penalty is larger, it does make sense to bring it up more frequently,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a liberal advocacy group. “It’s an increasing factor in people’s decisions about whether or not to get enrolled.”

    “More and more, people are mentioning the sticks as well as the carrots,” said Katherine Hempstead, director of health insurance coverage for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a nonpartisan organization that has helped facilitate the insurance expansion under Obama’s law.

    Administration officials are looking for a balance.

    “We need to be make sure that we are very clear and explicit about that $695 penalty so people understand the choice they are making,” said spokeswoman Lori Lodes. But she said the main emphasis will stay on the benefits of having health insurance and how the law’s subsidies can dramatically lower the cost of monthly premiums.

    The requirement that individuals get health insurance or face fines remains the most unpopular part of President Barack Obama’s health care law, a prime target of Republican repeal efforts. It started at $95 or 1 percent of income in 2014. The fact that it’s gone up so much may take consumers by surprise.

    Source: A health law fine on the uninsured will more than double – WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports


  • ‘Leaves you numb’: Store owner still fighting IRS after feds seized his $107G account

    When federal agents stormed into Lyndon McLellan’s North Carolina convenience store last October without warning and accused him of trying to put one over on the government, the small business owner wasn’t sure what was happening.

    “They asked me if I knew what ‘structuring’ was and then they showed me some cash deposits I made in a 24-hour period,” he told FoxNews.com.

    The IRS agents apparently were suspicious because of deposits McLellan had made of just under $10,000. Banks are required to report transactions over $10,000; making multiple deposits of less than $10,000 to evade that requirement is known as “structuring.”

    Under this pretense, enforcement agents accused McLellan of the con and seized all $107,000 from his bank account.

    “It leaves you numb,” McLellan told FoxNews.com. “I was in a state of shock.”

    McLellan is one of many business owners who have been caught up in a controversial federal practice known as civil forfeiture. Under this policy, federal agents have been able to seize the property and bank accounts of anyone they suspect of having criminal ties. The burden of proof falls on the owner even if no charges are filed.
    What’s unique in McLellan’s case is that he’s still battling to get his money back, despite the IRS pledging late last year to pull back on its use of civil forfeiture — and despite even the IRS commissioner suggesting agents erred in locking down his money.

    Before the federal seizure last year, McLellan had spent more than a decade running L&M Convenience Mart, a gas station, restaurant and convenience store in Fairmont, N.C.

    In an instant, his business account was gone. And then it got worse.

    Rumors quickly spread in the tiny town that McLellan’s money was frozen because of suspected ties to drugs, fraying the good reputation he’d spent years building in the community.

    “Several people thought it was drug-related but when I told them what really happened they said, ‘How in the world can they take your money?’ That’s the answer I’ve been waiting on too,” he said.

    McLellan claims he didn’t do anything wrong. The IRS has never alleged he committed a crime nor has the agency brought any criminal charges against him. Instead, McLellan, 50, was verbally accused of structuring cash deposits to avoid bank reporting requirements, under a measure originally meant to target drug dealers, terrorists and others trying to launder money through criminal activity.

    From 2005 to 2012, the IRS seized more than $242 million from alleged structuring violations in more than 2,500 cases, according to an Institute for Justice study. In more than 830 of those cases, no other criminal activity was alleged.

    Source: ‘Leaves you numb’: Store owner still fighting IRS after feds seized his $107G account


  • The IRS Was Very Naughty, But It’s Sorry, Says Inspector General

    Even as the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration reports the discovery of thousands (!) of Lois Lerner lost-in-action emails, we’re told the IRS “has taken significant actions” to avoid the sort of politicized shenanigans that got the former tax-administering bureaucrat in such hot water to begin with. Only time will tell whether the recovered missives reveal deliberate targeting of conservative tax-exempt organizations as part of an effort to hobble critics of the administration, but Inspector General Russell George and company have already concluded that right-leaning groups received inappropriate scrutiny—and say that the tax agency is taking steps to make sure that this particular transgression isn’t repeated. For what that’s worth.

    The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration notes:

    The report is a follow-up to a May 2013 TIGTA report, which found that ineffective IRS management resulted in: 1) the use of inappropriate criteria to identify for review organizations applying for tax-exempt status based on names and policy positions instead of indications of political campaign intervention; 2) substantially delayed processing of certain applications, and, 3) the issuance of unnecessary information requests.

    And before we even get into it, the IG told inquiring members of Congress two years ago that conservative groups did indeed receive special attention not given to those leaning to the left. “Our audit did not find evidence that the IRS used the ‘progressives’ identifier as selection criteria for potential political cases between May 2010 and May 2012,” he wrote to Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.). All of the groups with “Tea Party,” “patriots” and “9/12” in their name got the treatment, compared to 30 percent of the groups with “progress” or “progressive” in their names.

    via The IRS Was Very Naughty, But It’s Sorry, Says Inspector General.