Your cheatin’ heart

April 15, 2016

Someone once asked behavioral economist Dan Ariely what percentage of Americans cheat on their income taxes. Dan’s reply:

I’m not sure, but it’s clearly a large amount: Pew Research estimated that the IRS lost about $270 billion dollars for tax “underreporting” in 2010. I tend to agree with Will Rogers, who once said, “The income tax has made liars out of more Americans than golf.”

Taxes don’t just tempt many Americans to cheat. They also kill us. A 2012 paper by Donald Redelmeier and Christopher Yarnell published in the Journal of The American Medical Association found that over the past 30 years, fatal accidents increase by about 6% on April 15 compared to standard days. The authors chalk this up to stress. They also show that this increase doesn’t hold for people at retirement age (who, presumably, aren’t that stressed about taxes), has increased over time (suggesting we’ve been under more stress as U.S. taxes have grown more complex) and is particularly large for those of us on the West Coast (where state taxes are particularly high).

Of course, these two findings—increased dishonesty and increased stress—could be linked. So this tax season, please try to be safe when filling out and delivering your 1040s.

Taxing times

April 15, 2015

Come on, people — those hard drives aren’t going to destroy themselves

July 22, 2014

From The Washington Times.

Days after IRS officials said in a sworn statement that former top agency employee Lois G. Lerner’s computer memory had been wiped clean, the agency put out word to contractors Monday that it needs help to destroy at least another 3,200 hard drives.

The Internal Revenue Service solicitation for “media destruction” services reflects an otherwise routine job to protect sensitive taxpayer information, but it was made while the agency’s record destruction practices remain under a sharp congressional spotlight.

Congressional investigators of the IRS targeting of conservative groups have been hampered by the unexplained destruction of emails and other records of Ms. Lerner, the former head of the IRS tax-exempt division and a central figure in the scandal.

The loss of Ms. Lerner’s hard drive also raised broader questions about why the tax agency never reported the missing records to the National Archives and Records Administration, as required by the Federal Records Act.

While those questions remained unresolved, IRS officials signaled plans to destroy tens of thousands of additional electronic records.

“After all media are destroyed, they must not be capable of any reuse or information retrieval,” IRS officials stated in the contract papers.

[story continues here]

Congressman proposes “The Dog Ate My Tax Receipts Act”

June 23, 2014

Congressman Steve Stockman (R-TX) has introduced a bill to extend to all of us ordinary working stiffs some of the advantages and privileges enjoyed by current and former members of the Obama administration, at least where our taxes are concerned.

Here is the full text of the Stockman bill:

The resolution may be cited as the “Dog Ate My Tax Receipts Resolution.”

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must allow taxpayers the same lame excuses for missing documentation that the IRS itself is currently proffering

Whereas, the IRS claims that convenient, unexplained, miscellaneous computer malfunction is sufficient justification not to produce specific, critical documentation; and,

Whereas, fairness and Due Process demand that the American taxpayer be granted no less latitude than we afford the bureaucrats employed presently at the IRS;

Now, therefore, be it resolved that it is the sense of the House of Representatives that unless and until the Internal Revenue Service produces all documentation demanded by subpoena or otherwise by the House of Representatives, or produces an excuse that passes the red face test,

All taxpayers shall be given the benefit of the doubt when not producing critical documentation, so long as the taxpayer’s excuse therefore falls into one of the following categories:

1. The dog ate my tax receipts
2. Convenient, unexplained, miscellaneous computer malfunction
3. Traded documents for five terrorists
4. Burned for warmth while lost in the Yukon
5. Left on table in Hillary’s Book Room
6. Received water damage in the trunk of Ted Kennedy’s car
7. Forgot in gun case sold to Mexican drug lords
8. Forced to recycle by municipal Green Czar
9. Was short on toilet paper while camping
10. At this point, what difference does it make?

For further enlightenment:

Bad Actors, by Bob Mack

IRS Contracted with Email Archiving Company in 2005, by Thomas Lifson

The IRS Email Scandal: Where’s the Outrage? by Jonah Goldberg

Yep – this will work

June 20, 2014

No hope, no change, no refunds

May 23, 2014

As Bloomberg News revealed last October, there is an accelerating trend of healthcare providers demanding upfront payments for non-emergency care as insurance deductibles rise. That trend will undoubtedly be exacerbated by ObamaCare, due in large part to a provision in the law that provides enrollees a 90-day grace period of premium nonpayments before their insurance can be cancelled – even as the insurance companies themselves remain liable for payments to providers for only 30 of those 90 days. The remaining 60 days leave the provider on the hook for collecting their fees. …

“Small businesses looking at rate increases may decide to drop coverage altogether, putting another 20-30 million Americans in the same boat as the 5 million Americans who had their policies cancelled because they failed to meet the new requirements. …

“Americans should never forget that all of this is happening even as two other major variables remain unresolved. First, the mechanism for a taxpayer bailout of insurance providers remains in effect. These so-called ‘risk corridors’ allow providers to set their premium prices artificially lower until the end of 2016. After that, without underwriting by the federal government, premiums could skyrocket even higher. Second, the employer mandate affecting mid-sized companies with 50 to 99 full-time employees, and larger companies with 100 employees or more, has been postponed until 2016. It remains to be seen how many more policy cancellations will result when Democrats can no longer kick that politically-charged can past another election cycle.” —Arnold Ahlert, ObamaCare’s Abysmal Numbers

“California Obamacare patients are finding it more affordable to drive to Tijuana, Mexico for health care treatment than to use their high-deductible Obamacare plans.

“Irma Montalvo tells USA Today seeing a Tijuana doctor only costs $15 and that she likes her Mexican doctor better. …

“The Obama administration has lamented the fact that Latino Obamacare enrollments remain surprisingly low. However, according to USA Today, ‘Mexican immigrants living in California, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico have long sought health care in border cities such as Tijuana, Mexicali and Nogales. The Affordable Care Act won’t change that, experts said.’

“Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the UCLA School of Medicine Director David Hayes-Bautista said high U.S. costs and low access may mean that ‘it’s possible even more U.S. residents may seek care with Mexican doctors.’

“A 2009 study found that half a million Mexican immigrants living in California get their medical care in Mexico because their green cards allow them to travel back and forth across the border easily.

“The trend of Latinos forgoing Obamacare coverage because they prefer Mexican doctors, faster service, and significantly lower prices than their high Obamacare deductibles allow stand to further frustrate Obama administration efforts to coax Latinos to sign up.” —Wynton Hall, California ObamaCare Patients Driving to Mexico for Cheaper, Faster Care

“When Obamacare operatives aren’t busy trashing the private health insurance market and squandering billions on useless technology, they’re busy … being idle. File the latest example of government health care profligacy under ‘Caution: Your tax dollars not at work.’

“According to at least one Obamacare paper-pusher, employees at an application-processing center in Wentzville, Missouri are getting paid to sit around and do nothing. Investigative reporter Chris Nagus of the St. Louis television station KMOV News 4 spoke to the whistleblower. ‘They want to hire more people even though we still don’t have work to keep the people that we have busy,’ the worker revealed. ‘There are some weeks that a data entry person would not process an application.’ The worker – or rather, shirker – also spilled the beans on how his colleagues are ‘told to sit at their computers and hit the refresh button every ten minutes.’” —Michelle Malkin, Cash for ObamaCare Shirkers

Corporatist government-business projects like ObamaCare should be held to far higher standards of accountability and transparency than purely private-sector enterprises, because corporations are ultimately responsible to shareholders, survive only through sustainable business models, and have government regulators breathing down their necks. (And as we saw from the GM recall debacle, when the government becomes senior partner in a corporation, those regulators grow notably less enthusiastic.) There’s no question ObamaCare would be dead and gone if it were a private business; CEO Barack Obama would spend the rest of life in court, or jail, fending off lawsuits from defrauded customers. …

“But instead, we get far less transparency and accountability when Big Government and Big Business get together to unleash their mutant progeny upon the population. We get spokespeople and their willing media enablers lying about how everything is going fine, when it clearly isn’t. The people who preside over unspeakable disasters are allowed to retire gracefully, with thanks for all their hard work. Top officials cite their lack of awareness of critical problems as a defense against being held responsible for failure. And even when the media knows that everything they’ve been instructed to relay to us about ObamaCare was a lie, they grant default credibility to the next set of fairy tales.” —John Hayward, Full Scale of ObamaCare Launch Disaster Is Revealed

“In June 2012, a Supreme Court majority accepted a, shall we say, creative reading of the ACA by Chief Justice John Roberts. The court held that the penalty, which the ACA repeatedly calls a penalty, is really just a tax on the activity — actually, the nonactivity — of not purchasing insurance. The individual mandate is not, the court held, a command but merely the definition of a condition that can be taxed. The tax is mild enough to be semi-voluntary; individuals are free to choose whether or not to commit the inactivity that triggers the tax.

“‘The ‘exaction’ — Roberts’s word — ‘looks,’ he laconically said, ‘like a tax in many respects.’ It is collected by the IRS, and the proceeds go to the Treasury for the general operations of the federal government, not to fund a particular program. This surely makes the ACA a revenue measure.

“Did it, however, originate in the House? Of course not. In October 2009, the House passed a bill that would have modified a tax credit for members of the armed forces and some other federal employees who were first-time home buyers — a bill that had nothing to do with health care. Two months later the Senate ‘amended’ this bill by obliterating it. The Senate renamed it and completely erased its contents, replacing them with the ACA’s contents.

“Case law establishes that for a Senate action to qualify as a genuine ‘amendment’ to a House-passed revenue bill, it must be ‘germane to the subject matter of the [House] bill.’ The Senate’s shell game — gutting and replacing the House bill — created the ACA from scratch. The ACA obviously flunks the germaneness test, without which the House’s constitutional power of originating revenue bills would be nullified.” —George Will, ObamaCare’s Doom

“Liberals claim the law is ‘working.’ This omits the dozens of provisions that the president has suspended or delayed because they were not working—for budgetary or political reasons. The suspended or postponed provisions include the mandate that businesses cover full-time employees, the cancellation of noncompliant plans, and cuts to Medicare Advantage.

“In fact, what is working is a very narrow segment of the law, the most politically salable part: the distribution of tax credits so people with low incomes can buy heavily subsidized insurance coverage. To say the law is working is like saying you ate your dinner when you gulped down your dessert and skipped the veggies. Just as your mother said you could not have one without the other, so the popular provisions of Obamacare are linked to the unpopular ones. Sooner or later, the administration will have to enforce the law—or watch a vast array of unintended side effects disrupt the national health care system.

“The left assures us Obamacare cannot be repealed. This is particularly rich, considering all the provisions the administration itself has effectively repealed when it found them inconvenient. …

“The funny thing is that, for all the myth-making about Obamacare, the left still cannot sell it to the American public. Even after a month of glowing coverage, polls from the major media outlets show that support for the law is basically flat, stuck in the low 40s, well below the level of opposition.” —Jay Cost, ObamaCare Myth-Making

For further enlightenment:

ObamaCare and the Magic Beanie: an Allegory, as Told by Calvin and Hobbes, by Michelle Obama’s Mirror

Big Increases in ObamaCare Premiums and Deductibles Coming in November, by Edward Morrissey

ObamaCare Could Cause Two Million Additional Adults to Leave Labor Force, by Daniel Mitchell

Hawaii’s ObamaCare Exchange Most Costly in the Nation, by Malia Zimmerman

This Is the End, by Stephen Green


Andrew Klavan: ObamaCareLies or Crap?

Ben Carson: ObamaCare Is the Worst Thing Since Slavery

In Arkansas, Another ObamaCare Contractor Office Pays Workers to Do Nothing

Widows Lose Their Health Insurance Because of ObamaCare

The last full measure of your tax dollars

April 15, 2014

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