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Gayle in MD
03-18-2011, 07:16 PM
http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2011/03/limits-tax-jihadism
<span style='font-size: 14pt'>
GOP Bill Would Force IRS to Conduct Abortion Audits

Were you raped? Was it incest? And other questions the government's tax cops would have to ask women who've terminated pregnancies.</span>— By Nick Baumann



<span style='font-size: 14pt'>Under a GOP-backed bill expected to sail through the House of Representatives, the Internal Revenue Service would be forced to police how Americans have paid for their abortions. To ensure that taxpayers complied with the law, IRS agents would have to investigate whether certain terminated pregnancies were the result of rape or incest. And one tax expert says that the measure could even lead to questions on tax forms: Have you had an abortion? Did you keep your receipt</span>?

<span style='font-size: 14pt'>In testimony to a House taxation subcommittee on Wednesday, Thomas Barthold, the chief of staff of the nonpartisan Joint Tax Committee, confirmed that one consequence of the Republicans' "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" would be to turn IRS agents into abortion cops—that is, during an audit, they'd have to detemine, from evidence provided by the taxpayer, whether any tax benefit had been inappropriately used to pay for an abortion.</span>

<span style='font-size: 14pt'>The proposed law, also known as H.R. 3, extends the reach of the Hyde Amendment—which bans federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at stake—into many parts of the federal tax code. In some cases, the law would forbid using tax benefits—like credits or deductions—to pay for abortions or health insurance that covers abortion. If an American who used such a benefit were to be audited, Barthold said, the burden of proof would lie with the taxpayer to provide documentation, for example, that her abortion fell under the rape/incest/life-of-the-mother exception, or that the health insurance she had purchased did not cover abortions.

"Were this to become law, people could end up in an audit, the subject of which could be abortion, rape, and incest," says Christopher Bergin, the head of Tax Analysts, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit tax policy group. "If you pass the law like this, the IRS would be required to enforce it."

The proposal, which House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has declared a top priority of the new Republican Congress, has 221 cosponsors and is expected to pass the House easily. The bill caused controversy and sparked a national protest campaign in January after Mother Jones reported that it would limit the Hyde Amendment's rape exception to cases of "forcible rape." Experts told Mother Jones that move could prevent Medicaid from paying for abortions in many rape cases, including statutory rapes. Despite the presence of many other controversial provisions, the bill regained momentum after its sponsors promised to strip the "forcible rape" language. But during Wednesday's hearing, Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) highlighted the IRS enforcement issue, which has until now flown under the radar. He asked:

Would a woman have to certify that the Health Savings Account funds she spent on birth control pills or for a doctor's visit weren't used to pay for an abortion? If a woman were audited, would IRS agents be at her house demanding court documents or affidavits proving that her pregnancy was the result of rape or incest?

Barthold replied that the taxpayer would have to prove that she had complied with all applicable abortion laws. Under standard audit procedure, a woman would have to provide evidence to corroborate facts about abortions, rapes, and cases of incest, says Marcus Owens, an accountant and former longtime IRS official. If a taxpayer received a deduction or tax credit for abortion costs related to a case of rape or incest, or because her life was endangered, then "on audit [she] would have to demonstrate or prove, ideally by contemporaneous written documentation, that it was incest, or rape, or [her] life was in danger," Owens says. "It would be fairly intrusive for the woman."

Not everyone has "contemporaneous written documentation" that a pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. And, as Owens notes, adults sometimes pay for abortions for their children. If H.R. 3 becomes law, parents could face IRS questions about whether they spent pre-tax money from health savings accounts on abortions for their kids. "It would seem there would have to be a question about that [in an audit] and maybe even a question on the tax return," Owens says.

The bill contains no instructions for how the IRS should enforce it. The wording of the legislation is so vague that the Joint Tax Committee offered several different interpretations of which parts of the tax code it might actually affect. But the law will unquestionably affect some portion of the tax code—an entire section of the bill is titled "Prohibition on Tax Benefits Relating to Abortion." (A spokesman for New Jersey GOP Rep. Chris Smith, the main author of the bill, did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the IRS said the agency does not comment on pending legislation.)

<span style='font-size: 17pt'>"The Internal Revenue Service has no business interfering with a woman's right to a safe, legal, constitutionally-protected medical procedure," Thompson tells Mother Jones. "Private health care decisions belong to a woman, her family, and her doctor—not a government auditor."

Most IRS agents would likely agree, Owens says: "I don't think [IRS agents] enjoy prying around into those sorts of private matters." Another IRS veteran tells Mother Jones he doesn't believe his ex-colleagues would want to enforce such a law. "You can't ask people to go out and ask some woman about what the circumstances are surrounding her abortion. They just won't do it."</span></span>

<span style='font-size: 14pt'>UPDATE: NARAL Pro-Choice America, one of the major groups supporting abortion rights, has issued a statement responding to this story:

"This bill gets more outrageous and insulting by the day. Not only would a woman have to describe her sexual assault to the police, but she could then be forced to relive that horrifying experience with an agent from the IRS," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "The 221 members of Congress who signed their names to this egregious bill must explain to their constituents why they want to give the IRS authority to audit rape survivors."

It's hard to know exactly what form "describ[ing] her sexual assault to the... IRS" would take, since this bill hasn't become law. But as I note in the story, "contemporaneous written documentation" is a general standard for the agency, so it's likely that, barring a change to the law, a woman would need to provide such documentation to the IRS during an audit. But what would meet the standard? A police report? Trial records? A doctor's note? Again, it's hard to predict.

UPDATE 2: In comments, HyperTyler asks whether this means the GOP is abandoning HIPAA, the law that protects privacy of health records. Answer: not really. The law allows law enforcement agents to obtain such records by submitting a written request. IRS agents conducting an audit almost certainly qualify as law enforcement agents in this context.

UPDATE 3: Kevin Drum has more on this.



The Limits of Tax Jihadism
— By Kevin Drum

| Fri Mar. 18, 2011 8:16 AM PDT
Remember the Republican abortion bill that tried to redefine "forcible rape"? That bit of the bill got removed after a public outcry, but the rest of it is still sailing through the GOP-controlled House. And in its zeal to make sure that no one anywhere ever gets an abortion, Republicans have decided that money you save via tax breaks or tax credits isn't your money after all. It's their money, and they want to make sure you spend it the way they want. Nick Baumann:</span><span style='font-size: 17pt'>Under a GOP-backed bill expected to sail through the House of Representatives, the Internal Revenue Service would be forced to police how Americans have paid for their abortions. To ensure that taxpayers complied with the law, IRS agents would have to investigate whether certain terminated pregnancies were the result of rape or incest. And one tax expert says that the measure could even lead to questions on tax forms: Have you had an abortion? Did you keep your receipt?</span><span style='font-size: 17pt'>....The proposed law, also known as H.R. 3, extends the reach of the Hyde Amendment—which bans federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at stake—into many parts of the federal tax code. In some cases, the law would forbid using tax benefits—like credits or deductions—to pay for abortions or health insurance that covers abortion. If an American who used such a benefit were to be audited, Barthold said, the burden of proof would lie with the taxpayer to provide documentation, for example, that her abortion fell under the rape/incest/life-of-the-mother exception, or that the health insurance she had purchased did not cover abortions.</span>Here in the Drum household, for example, Marian is very big on taking advantage of her company's cafeteria-style health plan and putting aside pre-tax dollars each year to pay for medical incidentals. This is why I always save receipts for copays or bottles of aspirin or whatnot: so Marian can get reimbursed for this stuff out of pre-tax dollars.

<span style='font-size: 17pt'>The GOP's normal line is that this is your money, not the government's, despite the fact that it's a tax break that obviously costs the government some revenue. But no longer. If we were to submit a claim for an abortion, I guess it would be illegal unless it were the result of rape or incest. And we'd have a gang of jackbooted IRS thugs smashing down our door and demanding that we prove it.</span>
<span style='font-size: 14pt'>Or something. It's unclear, of course, what the law would actually require. But at least we finally know the limits of the GOP anti-tax fervor. In a battle between tax cuts and making it harder for women to get an abortion, it turns out that abortion demagoguery wins.</span>

pooltchr
03-18-2011, 08:03 PM
Increasing the font size doesn't make you any more credible...just louder!

Steve

wolfdancer
03-18-2011, 08:32 PM
I find it more readable with my failing eyesight, and I enjoy the dramatic emphasis that it places on informative statements such as that. But I also can see where you might believe that she is rubbing it in a bit; pouring salt into the wound, etc
It's just "show biz", don't let her spoil your day
"let's go on with the show!!!!"

Qtec
03-18-2011, 08:45 PM
The GOP, after hammering Obama on jobs for months have come up with zero legislation that would help the economy. There are more important things it seems.

Defund Planned Parenthood.
Defund the NPR.
Defund abortion services..everywhere.
Slash the budget increasing unemployment.
Attacking the unions.
Attacking the MC and forcing the PS workers to take wage cuts.

etc etc etc............where is the job creation legislation?

Q

Gayle in MD
03-18-2011, 08:49 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Qtec</div><div class="ubbcode-body">The GOP, after hammering Obama on jobs for months have come up with zero legislation that would help the economy. There are more important things it seems.

Defund Planned Parenthood.
Defund the NPR.
Defund abortion services..everywhere.
Slash the budget increasing unemployment.
Attacking the unions.
Attacking the MC and forcing the PS workers to take wage cuts.

etc etc etc............where is the job creation legislation?

Q </div></div>


<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">The proposal, which House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has declared a top priority of the new Republican Congress, has 221 cosponsors and is expected to pass the House easily. </div></div>

I thought making President Obama a one term president, was their top priority, how could I have misjudged them so.

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wolfdancer
03-18-2011, 08:52 PM
Seems that they are too preoccupied with other "more important" things

Gayle in MD
03-18-2011, 09:06 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: wolfdancer</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Seems that they are too preoccupied with other "more important" things </div></div>

Yeah, they're preoccupied with distracting the country from any critically important problems, that way they don't have to solve anything, since most of urgent problems are connected to their smutty Energy, Pharma, Banking and Medical, corporate campaign contributors.

They have always used social issues, to distract from having to actually address any REAL problems, which in republican terms, means making everything they want legal, while making everything everyone else wants, illegal, including human rights.

that's their game, when they have the Congress, then when they lost it, they can always do their usual filibustering trick.

Obstructionists extraordinaire.


G.

wolfdancer
03-18-2011, 09:46 PM
bottom line..... people, average people, are secondary in importance to the dollar

LWW
03-19-2011, 01:52 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: pooltchr</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Increasing the font size doesn't make you any more credible...just louder!

Steve </div></div>

They are astounded that anyone deducting a medical expense might have to present a receipt that they actually incurred the expense?