Obamacare Tax Penalties Cometh

by James Corbett, The International Forecaster Ahhh, February, the shortest month of the year. It’s that time when skiers and snowboarders squeeze in their last few runs on the black diamond, when the days start becoming a little bit longer, when the first breaks begin to appear in Jack Frost’s icy facade. Oh, and tax season. Let’s not forget tax season. Yes, people all over the globe are beginning to get last year’s receipts in order and combing their fleece coats in preparation for the annual shearing by the tax “authorities.” In the US, there’s an extra bonus this year: all the new hoops, paperwork, bureaucracy, headaches and penalties associated with the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. To be precise, there are over 40 new tax provisions related to the legislation and 33 exemptions that can be claimed, further complicating the already impenetrably dense tax code. To make matters even worse, all of this new bureaucracy is going to be overseen by the IRS, which just so happens to be going through a “budget crisis.” Congress slashed the IRS budget by $346 million for 2015 and now the poor Internal Revenue Service is claiming there are going to be slowdowns in processing, citing fewer agents capable of auditing returns as an excuse for why people are going to have to wait longer for returns this tax season. And don’t even think about trying to call them on the phone to ask questions about the new Obamacare paperwork and penalties. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen admitted recently that the IRS will only be able to answer about half of the calls they receive to their customer service line this year, and those who do get through will have to wait for 30 minutes or more. Even tax professionals are having to put up with the issue. As Jim Lowe of AVL Tax Professionals claimed in a recent Citizen-Times write-up: “Even on (tax preparers’) phone lines … we still can’t get through. If I have a client who has an issue, I just have to sit on hold for an hour and a half.” Before you cry yourself to sleep over the plight of the poor beleaguered IRS agents, though, you should be aware that Obama is lobbying for a $3 billion INCREASE in the agency’s budget next year, or 1000% of this year’s cut. (I wonder if that means every phone call in 2016 will be answered within seconds and every refund will be issued the same day?). Somehow, though, despite the armageddon brought about by this year’s 3% budget cut the IRS has still found the time to issue a handy-dandy 21 page guide all about how to correctly work out how many pounds of flesh Obamacare is going to cost you. The 21-page manual (a nice addition to the already-existing 73,954 pages of the federal tax code) even comes with links to three lengthy forms and nine separate tip sheets! No word yet on whether it comes with its own personal legal team and interpreter, but you get the point: those who already have nightmares about their tax filings are going to have it even worse this year. And just in case you still believe you’re going to sail through your filing this year without any additional headaches, just keep this in mind: even the government-sponsored healthcare marketplaces that have sprung up to help people sort through the Obamacare mess are struggling to deal with the added paperwork and bureaucracy burden the law has imposed on them. According to recent reports, Covered California—an Obamacare marketplace that is in a joint partnership with the California Department of Health Care Services—has generated about 100,000 error-ridden tax forms for its customers this year, meaning customers won’t get their refunds on time (at the very best). Continue Reading>>>

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