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Posts tagged ‘Internal Revenue Service’

Christine O’Donnell: Tax Law Didn’t Protect Me.


A federal law intended to protect the privacy of personal tax information has become a “shield” to protect tax agency employees, says tea party favorite Christine O’Donnell, whose tax data was accessed  immediately after she announced her Republican Senate candidacy in Delaware nearly three years ago.

“What was written as a well-meaning law to protect taxpayers has inexplicably transformed into a shield for the perpetrators,” O’Donnell wrote in the New York Post Saturday under the headline “Christine O’Donnell: I was a victim of the IRS.”

“Unless the law is changed, there will be no public accountability for those who committed this crime, no one will be brought to justice — and there will be no deterrent preventing such crimes from being committed again.”

O’Donnell defeated former Delaware Gov. Mike Castle, in a 2010 primary for Vice President Joe Biden’s old seat, but lost the general election to Democrat Chris Coons.

The day she announced her candidacy the Internal Revenue Service placed an $11,744 tax lien on a Wilmington home O’Donnell had sold in 2008.

“On March 9, 2010, around 10 a.m., I announced my plans to run for the Senate representing Delaware,” O’Donnell said in her Post column. “Later that same day, my office received a call from a reporter asking about my taxes.

“It’s since come out, after a halting and unenthusiastic investigation, that a Delaware Department of Revenue employee named David Smith accessed my records that day at approximately 2 p.m. — out of curiosity, he says.

“That these records ended up in the hands of the press is just a coincidence, the IRS claims,” O’Donnell said.

“The tax records given to the reporters weren’t even accurate,” she continued. “I had never fallen behind on my taxes, and a supposed tax lien was on a house I no longer owned.

“The lien was highly publicized and used as political ammunition by my political opponents. The IRS later withdrew the lien and blamed it on a computer glitch but, at that point, the damage — and the invasion of my privacy — was done,” O’Donnell said.

She noted how the IRS has admitted to targeting tea party, conservative, and religious groups in their applications for tax-exempt status and acknowledged how “opponents of President Obama have been subjected to audits soon after criticizing the administration.”

In fact, former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz and other conservatives have charged to Newsmax TV that last month’s indictment of Obama critic and best-selling author Dinesh D’Souza on campaign-finance charges “smacks of selective prosecution.”

“What we all have in common,” O’Donnell said. “No answers.”

A Treasury Department official told O’Donnell in January 2013 that “my tax records were compromised and misused,” she said, but since then, “no one has been called to testify, no more answers given.

“How did Smith’s curiosity become an erroneous tax lien? How did the material end up in the hands of a journalist?” O’Donnell asked. “Neither Smith, nor anyone else in the Delaware Department of Revenue, nor anyone at the IRS, has never been placed under oath to explain this.”

The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee are investigating the IRS targeting — and Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley has discussed O’Donnell’s case.

Just this week, Grassley and three other Judiciary Committee members called on FBI Director James Comey to answer specific questions regarding the “routine review” of campaign filings, IRS records and other data that led to the D’Souza indictment.

But “in a brutal irony, even if Congress does track down answers, they may not be able to share what they discover with me,” O’Donnell said.

That’s because of the law requiring the privacy of personal tax information.

“Too bad it didn’t protect mine,” O’Donnell said.

“It has already been 10 months since Sen. Grassley and I were told by Treasury Department officials that we would be given information about my case,” she added. “What is taking so long?

“The only way people will be confident the government is truly on their side is if these cases are resolved with the perpetrators held accountable and brought to justice,” O’Donnell said. “Until then, any taxpayer is a potential target.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

By Todd Beamon

Next Big Obamacare Shock May Come at Tax Time.


People who use subsidies to help pay for their Obamacare policies may get a nasty shock at tax time, when the Internal Revenue Service could hit them with a big demand to repay the money.

While it’s in the law, it’s still likely to make plenty of Obamacare subscribers angry at the IRS.

“If I were the IRS, I would be very concerned that I’m going to be viewed as the villain when people have to pay back money the government gave them for health insurance,” says Chris Condeluci, who served as Senate Finance Committee GOP tax counsel when Obamacare was being drafted.

According to the tax code, insurance buyers must be sure to alert insurance exchanges to life changes that affect their incomes through the year, reports Politico.

A new job, promotion, or anything that causes income to go up could result in a demand to return the tax credits, if the life change isn’t reported, according to the new rules.

Recipients who lose income could get a tax refund when next year’s taxes are calculated in 2015, but more likely, they’ll get a bill. For example, in California, 38 percent of people who get tax credits to pay for their healthcare are expected to get bills totalling more than $850 each if they don’t report income changes.

Editor’s Note: 22 Hidden Taxes and Fees Set to Hit You With Obamacare. Read the Guide to Protect Yourself. 

Many people, instead of having to cough up the money for the bill, instead will see smaller income tax returns, said University of California Berkeley professor Ken Jacobs, who co-wrote a study on the issue for healthaffairs.org.

Taxpayers can choose to pay the full price for their Obamacare policies and then collect refunds for the tax credits they passed up when tax time rolls around. However, many people choose to take the tax credits when picking insurance plans to help absorb the costs.

Midyear changes are often favorable to taxpayers, however, said Theresa Pattara, director of tax policy and practice for H&R Block. But with the Obamacare exchanges, events that change an income, such as a pay raise, must be reported personally. Many people are not used to doing that because employers usually handle adjusting workers’ taxes after they get a raise.

But not all taxpayers will have to pay back all the money. Those within 200 percent of the poverty line will have their repayments capped at $300 per person and $600 per family, an amount that increases until one is at 400 percent of the poverty line, for a maximum of $1,250 per person and $2,500 per family.

Those who earn more than 400 percent of the poverty level, or $45,900 per person and $94,000 for a family of four, could have to repay their entire tax credit.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Sandy Fitzgerald

Sen. Lee: Churches Should Not Be Forced to Perform Gay Marriages.


Image: Sen. Lee: Churches Should Not Be Forced to Perform Gay Marriages

By Audrey Hudson

Sen. Mike Lee says a bill he introduced would prevent the Internal Revenue Service from denying tax-exempt status to any person or group that refuses to perform gay marriages.

“What we’re talking about here is the freedom of religious belief, the freedom of a church, for example, to adhere to its own religious doctrine so that it cannot be discriminated against by the government,” the Utah Republican said in an interview with Newsmax.

Lee said the federal government’s failure to protect religious liberty — citing Obamacare mandates for contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs — was a key motivation for him to introduce the “Marriage and Religious Freedom Act,” which protects clergy from being punished if they refuse to perform gay marriages.

“This is something that the overwhelming majority of Americans would support and the overwhelming majority of Americans would be disappointed if they discovered Congress would be unwilling to pass something like this,” Lee said.

Lee’s bill was introduced before Congress recessed for the holidays. It has the support of Republican Sens. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. A bipartisan companion measure in the House is sponsored by Republican Reps. Raul Labrador of Idaho and Chris Smith of New Jersey, as well as Democrats Dan Lipinski of Illinois and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina.

“It is rare that a month or few weeks go by without me hearing from some religious person or institution that has great concern about the status of religious liberty,” Lee told Newsmax.

“And that’s all the more reason why those of us who believe in religious liberty, whether we are Democrats or Republicans, need to stand up and make clear that there is a good reason why religious liberty receives protection in the Constitution, and there are good reasons why we need to draw protective lines in legislation that we pass that will bolster those protections.”

The Utah Republican said President Barack Obama has shown a significant lack of respect for religious freedoms through his administration’s effort to expand the size and control of the federal government.

He noted, however, that Obama has specifically stated he has no intention of revoking the tax-exempt status of any church that does not recognize gay marriage.

“In light of the fact he said that, I think it’s important that we memorialize that in legislation,” Lee added. “If he in fact feels that way, then he should be just fine with this legislation.”

Lee also said the revelation earlier this year that the IRS had targeted conservative and tea party groups for extra scrutiny over their tax-exempt status was a factor as well in his moving to write the bill.

“That’s why we need to be concerned, but it’s also why we should be in a good position to put those assurances to rest in legislation,” Lee said.

Despite the fact that there is a bipartisan companion bill in the House, Lee said it is difficult to gauge whether the measure will pass both chambers. Endorsements from numerous religious and conservative organizations could help, though. Among those supporting the measure: the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Family Research Council, National Organization For Marriage, Heritage Action, and Concerned Women For America.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, says the protections under Lee’s bill are necessary, Catholic World News reports.

“Increasingly, state laws are being used to target individuals and organizations for discrimination simply because they act on their belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” Cordileone said.

“Such prejudice must not be allowed to spread to the federal government.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Bill to Exempt Volunteer Responders From Obamacare Gathers Support.


A bill that would allow volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel to be exempt from the Affordable Care Act has garnered substantial support on Capitol Hill.

More than 100 members of Congress have come out in support of the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act, The Hill reported Tuesday.

“Properly distinguishing between full-time, paid emergency responders and volunteers is necessary if we want to protect essential emergency response agencies that keep our communities safe and protect over one-third of the U.S. population,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who introduced the bill in the Senate.

The Senate bill has 23 co-sponsors from both parties.

The House version has been introduced by Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., and has attracted 76 co-sponsors from the two parties.

“Since there is also a bipartisan companion bill in the Senate, I am optimistic that we can have a floor vote on it in the House early in the new year,” Barletta said, The Hill reported.

Fire and emergency responders have expressed fears that the increased costs of Obamacare could seriously hamper their departments, Fox News reports. 

The ACA requires businesses with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance coverage. Whether the IRS considers the volunteers to be full-time employees is not clear, as it has yet to rule on the issue.

The administration has delayed implementation of the employer mandate until 2015 as officials move to simplify the regulations. It was to begin Jan. 1, 2014.

“At this point, it’s pretty much wait and see,” Michael Berg, president of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad in Virginia, told The Daily Progress, Fox News reports. “We’re an all-volunteer organization . . . There’s a lot of speculation.”

“This is just another example of how Obamacare was not well thought-out,” Barletta said. “So, we’re left to try to pave over the potholes. And this is a big one, possibly affecting fire stations nationwide.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By JOE SCHAEFFER

Exhausted Harry Reid Released from Hospital.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was released from the hospital after being diagnosed as exhausted and was cleared to return to work, a statement from his office said on Friday.

Reid, 74, had gone to the hospital as a precaution. “The doctors diagnosed him as exhausted, not anything more serious, and have cleared him to go back to work,” the statement said.

The Nevada Democrat missed several key Senate votes as lawmakers wrapped up their work before the holiday break.

Senate Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin earlier said that he had spoken with Reid.

“He sounds hale and hearty and anxious to get home and then back to work,” Durbin said on the Senate floor Friday afternoon.

“We look forward to that happening when he returns to this desk early in the new year,” Durbin said just before the chamber halted its work for 2013. Senators return for legislative business in early January.

Reid, who was first elected to the Senate in 1986 and became its leader in 2007, suffered a stroke in 2005 and was injured last year when his motorcade crashed in Las Vegas.

In Reid’s absence on Friday, the Senate voted to approve John Koskinen, President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the Internal Revenue Service, and Alejandro Mayorkas, Obama’s pick for deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Obama’s nominee to head the U.S. Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, also advanced on a key procedural vote. The Senate is expected to officially confirm Yellen, currently the Fed’s vice chair, on Jan. 6.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

GOP: All Americans Deserve Obamacare ‘Hardship’ Exemption.


Image: GOP: All Americans Deserve Obamacare 'Hardship' Exemption

By Todd Beamon

House Republicans stepped up their attacks on Obamacare on Friday — after President Barack Obama admitted that “we screwed it up” — charging that the healthcare law should be delayed for all Americans, not just those who lost their insurance.

“With this latest delay, the Obama administration is once again admitting that the president’s healthcare law is unworkable and unaffordable,” House Speaker John Boehner said. “Millions have lost the plans they liked, only to find themselves priced out of new policies with higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

“The administration’s action does nothing to address the problems at the center of the president’s healthcare law, or to help the families suffering its consequences,” the Ohio Republican continued. “All Americans deserve a hardship exemption from this train wreck of a law, and a focus on patient-centered reforms that will help lower costs and protect jobs.”

Late Thursday, the White House announced that Americans whose insurance has been canceled could buy “catastrophic plans” or avoid buying insurance altogether. The surprise announcement came just four days before the Dec. 23 deadline for Americans to choose coverage that will begin on Jan. 1.

The decision has roiled the insurance industry and sent the stocks of such major insurers as Cigna Corp., Aetna Inc., and Humana lower on Wall Street.

At his last news conference of the year, Obama admitted on Friday that “we screwed it up” regarding the botched rollout of the healthcare plan’s individual mandate on Oct. 1.

He continued to blame many of the problems with the rollout on technical issues regarding the HealthCare.gov website, which covers 36 states that lack their own exchanges.

“There are a whole bunch of things that we’ve been taking a look at,” Obama said at the White House session.

That was not enough for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and other GOP legislators, though, who have long attacked Obamacare as unworkable, expensive, and unfixable.

“Our entire healthcare system can’t be fundamentally changed at any given time subject to the random impulses of President Obama,” Cantor said in a statement. “How can anyone make healthcare decisions today knowing that the law may be unilaterally changed again tomorrow?

“Many Americans had good healthcare that they liked and could afford, but lost it due to Obamacare,” he added. “Absent affordable alternatives, these families are now being told to simply go without care for a year or buy a bare-bones plan that doesn’t offer them the care they need. Is that the promise of Obamacare?

“Republicans have consistently asked for a one-year delay of the mandates for all Americans, and put forward a proposal to allow American families to keep their health plans,” he said. “The White House actions clearly prove Obamacare can’t work as designed. It’s time for Obamacare to be delayed for all.”

Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, an orthopedic surgeon who is vice chairman of the House Budget Committee, said that “at this point, no one is particularly surprised at the Obama administration’s inability to govern in a coherent and orderly manner.

“But President Obama and his team are showing a remarkable level of disregard for how their decisions will affect millions of Americans and how Obamacare is harming real people in real ways.

“American families are doing all they can right now to plan and adjust to the fallout of Obamacare, whether it’s losing their current healthcare coverage or facing higher costs,” Price added. “Does the administration honestly believe it can simply paint over the damage it is doing with these sort of last-minute maneuvers? This law is fundamentally flawed.”

Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee referenced her questioning of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last week during a hearing of the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“We asked Secretary Sebelius point-blank what would be the next holiday surprise, and she was silent,” Blackburn, the committee’s vice chairman, said in a statement. “Yet, here we are with another major policy shift.

“The sad reality is that when the law takes effect come Jan. 1, more Americans will be without coverage under Obamacare than one year ago. What’s worse, the administration knew millions of plans would be cancelled, but the president kept repeating his solemn promises knowing they would not be kept.”

In another setback for HealthCare.gov, a top federal official told the House Oversight Committee this week that “high” and “moderate” security risks had been discovered on the site in recent weeks.

The disclosures by Teresa Fryer, chief information security officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, bolstered claims by Republicans, technology experts, and users that HealthCare.gov was vulnerable to security breaches.

“There were two high findings,” Fryer said in transcripts released on Friday by Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the oversight committee’s chairman. “One high finding was identified in an incident that was reported in November.”

Of the disclosures, Blackburn’s Volunteer State colleague, Diane Black, said: “It is deeply concerning that, almost three months after HealthCare.gov was launched, we are still learning of new and serious security risks with the Obamacare website.

“The fact is, this program was never ready to be launched, and it is reprehensible that this administration would proceed with implementation when the security of millions of Americans’ personal information is at risk from cyber threats and identity theft.

“Obamacare should be stopped in its entirety, but in the meantime, the very least this administration can do is properly notify someone if the personal information they have entered into the website is under threat — something that the federal government is currently under no obligation to do.”

Black noted that the legislation she introduced this week would require the government to notify Americans of such data breaches.

“Until Obamacare can be fully repealed, we must do what we can to protect Americans from this disastrous and dangerous law,” Black said.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Senate Confirms Turnaround Specialist Koskinen to Head IRS.


Image: Senate Confirms Turnaround Specialist Koskinen to Head IRS

The Senate voted Friday to confirm a retired corporate and government turnaround specialist to head the Internal Revenue Service, an agency recovering from scandal as it gears up to play a big role in implementing the president’s health care law.

John Koskinen, 74, won a five-year term as IRS commissioner, which would last beyond President Barack Obama’s stay in office. The vote was 59-36.

Koskinen’s confirmation was one of several being voted on Friday as the Senate wrapped up its work for the year. The Senate also voted to confirm Alejandro Mayorkas to be deputy secretary of Homeland Security, and Brian J. Davis to be a U.S. District Court judge in Florida.

Also Friday, the Senate cleared the way for Janet Yellen to succeed Ben Bernanke as head of the Federal Reserve. The procedural vote will allow the confirmation of Yellen as the first woman to lead the Fed on Jan. 6, after the Senate returns from its holiday vacation.

Friday’s votes ended a contentious year in the Senate in which majority Democrats changed the rules to make it easier to confirm the president’s nominees. Democratic leaders said they were frustrated because Republicans had blocked many qualified candidates from final confirmation votes. Republicans complained that Democrats were trampling the rights of the minority party, ending decades of precedent.

Obama tapped Koskinen for the IRS job following revelations that agents had targeted tea party and other conservative groups for extra, sometimes burdensome scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 elections. The Justice Department and three congressional committees have launched investigations.

The investigations, which are ongoing, have shown that IRS workers in a Cincinnati office started singling out conservative political groups in the spring of 2010 and continued to do so until 2012. IRS supervisors in Washington oversaw the targeting but there has been no evidence released so far that anyone outside the IRS knew about the targeting or directed it.

At his confirmation hearing, Koskinen said he will work to restore public trust in the agency.

“People need to have a view that the IRS is a nonpolitical, nonpartisan agency and that they will all be treated fairly no matter what their affiliation or political view,” Koskinen said.

Koskinen’s nomination had bipartisan support, but some Republicans wanted his confirmation delayed until the investigations were completed. Democrats said the position was too important to go unfilled, especially as the IRS takes on the health law.

“Mr. Koskinen is the type of leader we need at the IRS,” said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Finance Committee. “His experience as a turnaround artist in the public and private sector will be critical as he takes on this challenge.”

Koskinen has extensive experience in the public and private sectors. He came in to overhaul mortgage buyer Freddie Mac after its near-collapse in the financial crisis at the end of President George W. Bush’s administration. He also oversaw preparations for potential computer problems associated with the Year 2000 under President Bill Clinton.

With about 90,000 employees, the IRS processes more than 140 million individual income tax returns each year.

The IRS, which is part of the Treasury Department, will be in charge of enforcing the mandate that most individuals have health insurance, and collecting fines from people who don’t. The IRS will also distribute subsidies to help people buy insurance in new state-based marketplaces known as exchanges.

___

Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stephenatap

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

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