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The IRS Has Gone Rogue

Did Congress intend to offer tax credits through federal exchanges?

A president who says “I haven’t raised taxes” has authorized his Internal Revenue Service issue a “final rule” that will illegally tax some 12 million individuals, plus large employers, in as many as 40 states beginning in 2014. Oklahoma’s attorney general has asked a federal court to block this rule. Members of Congress have introduced legislation in both the House and the Senate to quash it.

At first glance, it might not seem that the IRS is up to anything nefarious. The rule in question concerns the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s tax credits, not the law’s tax increases. The tax credits are intended to offset the cost of insurance premiums for low- and middle-income workers.

For many Americans, however, those tax credits are like an anchor disguised as a life vest. The mere fact that a taxpayer is eligible for a tax credit can trigger tax liabilities against both the taxpayer (under the act’s “individual mandate”) and her employer (under the “employer mandate”). In 2016, these tax credits will trigger a tax of $2,085 on many families of four earning as little as $24,000. An employer with 100 workers could face a tax of $140,000 if even one of his workers is eligible for a tax credit.

“For many Americans, however, those tax credits are like an anchor disguised as a life vest”

So it is significant that the PPACA explicitly and repeatedly restricts eligibility for tax credits to people who purchase health insurance “through an Exchange [i.e., government agency] established by the state” in which they live. That means that under the statute Congress enacted, a state can block those hefty taxes simply by declining to create an exchange. The PPACA directs the federal government to create an exchange in any state that declines to create one itself, and Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius estimates she may have to do so in as many as 30 states. (Some experts put the number closer to 40.) However, because the statute withholds tax credits in federal exchanges, the creation of a federal exchange does not trigger tax liabilities. By our count, as many as 12 million low- and middle-income Americans would be exempt from those taxes, including 250,000 Oklahomans.

It is here that the IRS has gone rogue…

More via >> Michael F. Cannon & Jonathan H. Adler – National Review Online.

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