The answer to that question would seem to be settled. Chief Justice Roberts sided with the liberal members of the Court and ruled that, if walks like tax and talks like a tax, it is a tax. I vehemently disagree with what Chief Justice Roberts did. In my opinion, he should have ruled ObamaCare unconstitutional and told Congress if you want this to be law you can only do it if it is a tax. But, Roberts did what he did. ObamaCare is now law and the Court has defined the mandate penalty as a tax.
Obama, in spite of the Court’s ruling, claims it is not a tax but a penalty that is collected by the IRS. Mitt Romney, like me, believes the Court was wrong to make the decision it made; but now we must accept the court’s decision and the penalty is by law a tax. So, if it is a tax, who pays this tax? Well, those that don’t pay federal income tax (nearly 50%) won’t be paying it and the well to do already have insurance and, therefore, they won’t be paying it. That leaves the middle class to pay the largest tax increase ever. I snagged this chart from the Questions and Observations blog, which breaks down who will pay the tax.
From the chart it is clear that 75% of the tax, at least, falls on the middle-class. This exactly why Congress avoided calling it at tax in the first place. As it was, the Democrats only managed to pass the bill by one vote. Had they called it a tax, the bill would never have passed. Nobody in their right mind would propose and pass a massive tax bill while the country was in the midst of a horrible recession. (If Romney can’t make hay with this, he doesn’t deserve to win in November.)
But, here is a question. If the ObamaCare penalty is a tax, as the Court has said, what happens if a citizen decides not to pay this tax?
I am a graduate of a small engineering college. We use to joke about what we had learned. There were three things we learned:
- Don’t piss into the wind.
- Don’t push on a rope.
- Never screw with the IRS.
That last lesson is one that Al Capone, not an engineer, learned the hard way. If you don’t pay your taxes, the IRS will come after you. They can freeze your bank accounts, they can confiscate your property and sell it to recover the taxes due plus penalties, and they can even send you to jail. But, according to Jon N. Hall at American Thinker, the ObamaCare law has a twist:
Under the original ObamaCare, Congress commanded us to own insurance. But under the new ObamaCare, Congress taxes us for not owning what Congress cannot command us to own. (My CPU is still collating, Dave. I need more data.) In any event, one thing most Americans know is that you don’t mess with the IRS. So if the penalty in ObamaCare is now a tax, what is the penalty for not paying that new tax? Well, on page 170 of the actual law, we read:
(A) WAIVER OF CRIMINAL PENALTIES.-In the case of
any failure by a taxpayer to timely pay any penalty imposed
by this section, such taxpayer shall not be subject to
any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such failure.
(B) LIMITATIONS ON LIENS AND LEVIES.-The Secretary
(i) file notice of lien with respect to any property
of a taxpayer by reason of any failure to pay the penalty
imposed by this section, or
(ii) levy on any such property with respect to such failure.
I wonder if Chief Justice Roberts read that part of the law? Mr. Hall continues:
… But with ObamaCare, there’s no enforcement — it’s a toothless tax. And the lack of enforceability was known about before the bill was signed. In 2010, Fox News reported:
The use of liens and seizures otherwise authorized for collection of taxes does not apply to the collection of this penalty,” according to the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation. “Non-compliance with the personal responsibility requirement to have health coverage is not subject to criminal or civil penalties under the code and interest does not accrue for failure to pay such assessments in a timely manner.
So, is it really a tax? Maybe Obama is right. Maybe engineering schools need to revise their curriculums.
Well, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?