Government Admits Health Care Bill is a “Tax” … Oh, and the Bill Tracks and Taxes Physical Gold Transactions

Even the government is now admitting that the health care bill is a tax. As the New York Times pointed out on July 16th:

When Congress required most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, Democrats denied that they were creating a new tax. But in court, the Obama administration and its allies now defend the requirement as an exercise of the government’s “power to lay and collect taxes.”

And that power, they say, is even more sweeping than the federal power to regulate interstate commerce.

Administration officials say the tax argument is a linchpin of their legal case in defense of the health care overhaul and its individual mandate, now being challenged in court by more than 20 states and several private organizations.

Under the legislation signed by President Obama in March, most Americans will have to maintain “minimum essential coverage” starting in 2014. Many people will be eligible for federal subsidies to help them pay premiums.

In a brief defending the law, the Justice Department says the requirement for people to carry insurance or pay the penalty is “a valid exercise” of Congress’s power to impose taxes.

Congress can use its taxing power “even for purposes that would exceed its powers under other provisions” of the Constitution, the department said. For more than a century, it added, the Supreme Court has held that Congress can tax activities that it could not reach by using its power to regulate commerce.

And as ABC notes today, the bill contains a stealth provision requiring tracking – and thus tax reporting – of physical gold transactions:

[The health care legislation contains] a scarcely noticed tack-on provision to the law that puts gold coin buyers and sellers under closer government scrutiny.

***

Section 9006 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will amend the Internal Revenue Code to expand the scope of Form 1099. Currently, 1099 forms are used to track and report the miscellaneous income associated with services rendered by independent contractors or self-employed individuals.

Starting Jan. 1, 2012, Form 1099s will become a means of reporting to the Internal Revenue Service the purchases of all goods and services by small businesses and self-employed people that exceed $600 during a calendar year. Precious metals such as coins and bullion fall into this category and coin dealers have been among those most rankled by the change.

This provision, intended to mine what the IRS deems a vast reservoir of uncollected income tax, was included in the health care legislation ostensibly as a way to pay for it.

***

So every time a member of the public sells more than $600 worth of gold to a dealer, [Diane Piret, industry affairs director for the Industry Council for Tangible Assets, a trade association representing an estimated 5,000 coin and bullion dealers in the U.S.] said, the transaction will have to be reported to the government by the buyer.

***

The ICTA’s Piret says identity theft is another concern because criminals may set up shops specifically to extract personal information that would accompany the filing out of a 1099.

The office of the National Taxpayer Advocate, a citizen’s ombudsman within the IRS, issued a report June 30 that said the new rule “may present significant administrative challenges to taxpayers and the IRS.”

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