Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

November 24, 2012

Fact check: 'Obamacare tax form'

A conservative group misleads taxpayers on the Affordable Care Act and the Internal Revenue Service's future role in enforcing it. Americans for Tax Reform posted a "projected" IRS tax form on its website that claims to "help families and tax specialists prepare" for new tax provisions under the health care law.

But ATR makes several false claims:

The group claims taxpayers will have to disclose "personal identifying health information" to the IRS to prove they have insurance. It quotes an IRS official who said taxpayers will report their "insurance information." But the official also said the agency will not collect "any personal health information."

ATR says employers must offer preventative coverage that includes "abortion and hair loss treatment." That's not true. The law requires smaller insurance plans to cover preventative services, but states decide if those services include abortion. Even then, each state must have at least one plan that does not cover abortion.

The group says failing to comply with the law could result in "interest against your property." The law specifically bans the IRS from filing liens and levies against persons who fail to pay the tax for lacking insurance.

ATR claims taxpayers can apply for a waiver from the health care law. That's false. The government has given temporary waivers to some companies — not taxpayers — regarding one provision of the law, which involves benefit caps.

ATR says it created the tax form — just days before the presidential election — as a "service to the public." Our public service is to correct the record.

Not getting personal

Starting in 2014, the health care law requires most Americans to have insurance or pay a tax, although exemptions will apply based on income and other factors. The IRS will require most taxpayers to prove they're covered or they must pay a tax on their 2014 tax returns.

The IRS hasn't issued exact procedures for how taxpayers will prove they have insurance. But that hasn't stopped ATR from making misleading statements.

In an introduction to the tax form and in the instructions, ATR claims the IRS will require Americans to disclose:

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