Last night on his radio show, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh told listeners that there's a surefire way to get out of paying the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate fine: don't get a tax refund. "If you do not owe a tax refund, they [the IRS] cannot go into your bank account or anywhere else and get that money," he said.
This isn't anything new. The Washington Post noted way back in May that the IRS doesn't have its usual arsenal of ways to get you to pay up. "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," according to Section 1501 of the healthcare law. Also, you'd have to worry about the penalty assessed to people who underestimate their taxes (usually by more than $1000). But, yes Rush, if you meticulously calculate the your taxes for the rest of your life, don't mind that the penalty will accrue interest, and also don't need health insurance, then go for it. "Industry sources" also told Politico that the IRS plans to collect interest on unpaid penalties, though they haven't issued guidelines for that yet.
That same source added that the administration also isn't focusing on enforcement. "The administration in general is really de-prioritizing the penalty collection. They’re not going to be doing a lot of enforcement there," the source told Politico.
Of course none of the really affects Limbaugh, who makes a pretty decent living. For low-income Americans who depend on government assistance through benefits like the Earned Income Tax Credit, however, there's no such thing as adjusting your taxes to not get a refund. But then, the Affordable Care Act and its subsidies are designed to help that same subset of America just get insurance.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.