In the wake of reports that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative and libertarian nonprofits for additional scrutiny based on their political views, some in Congress are pushing for restrictions on the agency in advance of its implementation of President Obama’s individual mandate.
Republican Congressman Tom Price of Georgia, a physician, introduced the “Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act” (H.R. 2009), which would bar the IRS from implementing any aspect of Obama’s health care law.
“When it comes to an individual’s personal health care decisions, no American should be required to answer to the IRS, an agency that just forfeited its claim to a reputation of impartiality. It has always been an untenable and unacceptable scenario, and we ought to take this common-sense step to take the IRS out of health care,” Price said.
Price was inspired to introduce his legislation in part because of the experience of one of his constituents, who had was audited after criticizing Obama’s health care law.
“We’ve been suspecting for a long time that the IRS itself has targeted conservative groups and individuals. I know that personally, as I have a constituent, Dr. Hal Scherz, who started a group called Docs4PatientCare. For the first time in his professional career, after he started that group and put out its principles in public, he was audited by the IRS. No reason whatsoever, nothing else changed, but he was audited,” Price said. “This is real, it’s very troubling, it’s very concerning, and we will get to the bottom of it.”
Questions of Competence, Politicization
The IRS is tasked with implementing many of the most critical aspects of the mandates imposed under Obama’s law, notes Ryan Ellis, tax policy director at Americans for Tax Reform. He says the IRS is either too biased or too incompetent to enforce these policies.
“It’s pretty clear that the IRS is either too incompetent to know what they don’t know, or such a politicized arm of the Obama permanent campaign machine [that it can’t] be trusted to change a light bulb. Either way, you don’t want them anywhere near decisions that should be made between you and your doctor,” Ellis said. “Yet that’s precisely what the Obamacare law envisions.”
Ellis cited a report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), which found there are no fewer than 47 different provisions of Obamacare the IRS must implement.
“These provisions range from ‘great terribles’ like enforcing the individual mandate or stomping on religious conscience rights, all the way down the chain to the ridiculous—the 10 percent tanning tax comes to mind,” Ellis said.
New Taxes to Enforce
Americans for Tax Reform has counted 20 new or higher taxes that will be imposed to pay for Obamacare, several of which fall on families making less than $250,000 per year. Ellis notes the IRS’s enforcement policies will be crucial in collecting those taxes.
“The bottom line is that there will be few areas of our personal health care that will escape the eyes of the IRS—in Cincinnati and beyond,” Ellis said. “Every January, we’re going to get a tax form from our insurance company. Every April, we’re going to have to use this form to report our personal health ID information on our 1040 to the IRS. If the IRS doesn’t like it, we’ll be slapped with the individual mandate fine.”
Abuse Already Beginning
According to Chris Jacobs, a senior policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation, Obamacare’s vesting of power in the IRS is ripe for abuse.
“Obamacare gives the Internal Revenue Service dozens of new powers, but IRS has admitted it abused the powers it already has,” Jacobs said. “There are 700 bureaucrats working to implement Obamacare just within IRS—a number that the agency wants to grow into the thousands.”
“Americans should be concerned that an agency that engaged in partisan, politically motivated attacks will soon be obtaining their health insurance records, due to Obamacare’s mandate for all individuals to purchase insurance,” said Jacobs.