New Obamacare rule uses terms ‘shared responsibility payment’ and ‘penalty’ instead of ‘tax’

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
Font Size:

The Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) final rule on Obamacare’s individual mandate, released this week, uses the term “Shared Responsibility Payment” more than 50 times to describe the mandate’s non-compliance penalty, which the Supreme Court in 2012 defined as a tax.

The IRS also used the term “shared responsibility penalty” in the rule, which does not identify the individual mandate as a tax.

The 75-page rule published by the IRS, which is tasked with enforcing Obamacare as the law is fully implemented in 2014, is entitled “Shared Responsibility Payment for Not Maintaining Minimum Essential Coverage.”

While the Obama administration originally pitched the individual mandate as a penalty, not a tax, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts ruled in June 2012 that Obamacare is only constitutional because the individual mandate is technically a tax.

Nevertheless, the IRS used the term “penalty” in at least one instance in the new document.

“A commentator expressed a concern that a United States citizen or national who resides outside the United States may be subject to the shared responsibility penalty even if the individual has health care coverage provided by a foreign health insurance,” the IRS document states on page 22. The IRS document also uses the terms “monthly penalty amount” (page 44) and “monthly penalty amounts” to refer to individuals’ hypothetical costs under their shared responsibility payments.

Using the term “shared responsibility payment” to refer to what was legally defined as a tax might constitute an act of dishonesty on the part of the Obama administration, according to one expert.

“They lied to the American people, lied to the Supreme Court, now they’re back to lying to the American people,” Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist told The Daily Caller.

“It’s a historical attempt at coming up with a word other than taxes. ‘Revenues’ was driven into the ground. ‘Investment for spending’ was nice but even that gets a little old. ‘Stimulus’ sounds a little erotic. Now we’ve got ‘shared responsibility payment,'” Norquist said.

“It’s such a long phrase that people will never say it. Maybe they’ll use the acronym,” Norquist added.

“Here’s my question: can we go back to the Supreme Court and ask John Roberts if shared responsibility payments are constitutional?” Norquist asked.

The White House did not return a request for comment.

Follow Patrick on Twitter

Tags : obamacare
Patrick Howley