Anyone familiar with Breitbart News will not be surprised to learn that they did something stupid, again. After all, they are the geniuses who think that “E Pluribus Unum” is English. But their latest inanity stretches the boundary of blockheadedness even for them.
The story began when conservative muckraker Matt Drudge boasted on Twitter that he had just paid what he called his “Liberty Tax,” a reference to the penalty for not getting health care coverage. The problem is that this fee is not payable until his 2014 taxes are due in 2015. Subsequently, Drudge was chastised by more knowledgeable people (e.g. almost anyone) who wondered whether he was deliberately lying or just ignorant.
Coming to Drudge’s defense is Matthew Boyle of Breitbart News. Boyle proceeds to back up Drudge by accusing his critics of not understanding how businesses pay taxes. So Boyle sets out to explain it to them and cites language from the IRS form for filing estimated taxes:
[S]ince he is self-employed as the proprietor of The Drudge Report, he files as a small business. According to the IRS’s website for self-employed individuals, they are required to pay taxes quarterly. [...] So, when they file and pay those 2014 first quarter taxes, such individuals have to pay the Obamacare Individual Mandate tax if they opted to not have health insurance—like Drudge just did. [...] Additionally, the IRS form (1040-ES) for estimating quarterly taxes specifically recommends adding the mandate penalty to line 12 for ‘other taxes’ — to pay before the first quarterly deadline of April 15.”
It’s true that some self-employed individuals are required to make quarterly estimated payments on their taxes. However, none of them are required to include the penalty for not getting health insurance until the following year. In fact, it says just that in the same paragraph that BreitBrat Boyle quoted only a portion of. Here is the whole paragraph:
“Health care coverage. When you file your 2014 tax return in 2015, you will need to either (1) indicate on your return that you and your family had health care coverage throughout 2014, (2) claim an exemption from the health care coverage requirement for some or all of 2014, or (3) make a payment if you do not have coverage or an exemption(s) for all 12 months of 2014. For examples on how this payment works, go to www.IRS.gov/aca and click under the ‘Individuals & Families’ section. You may want to consider this when figuring your ‘Other taxes’ on Line 12 of the 2014 Estimated Tax Worksheet. For general information on these requirements, go to www.IRS.gov/aca.”
Furthermore, Boyle’s defense is based on Drudge’s assertion that he is filing as a business, not as an individual. But what both Boyle and Drudge neglect to mention is that the mandate for businesses with fewer than 100 employees (which certainly includes Drudge) to provide health insurance to their employees was delayed until 2016. So no matter how you slice, Drudge has no tax liability for the coverage mandate in 2014.
So Drudge’s “Liberty Tax” really turns out to be an “Idiot Tax,” because he doesn’t actually owe it. If he did pay the penalty (which we don’t have any proof of) it’s his own ignorance of the law that is to blame, not ObamaCare. And Breitbart’s lame-brained attempt to rescue Drudge only proves that when dumb right-wingers do dumb things, other dumb right-wingers will jump at the chance to compound the dumbness. And dumbest of all is that Drudge is bragging about putting his health in jeopardy by not having insurance. He regards liberty as being at risk for devastating financial hardship that would ultimately fall to other Americans in the form of higher premiums and fees for services.
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Further evidence of this cycle of stupidity is that Fox News featured this Breitbart story as the top headline on their lie-riddled Fox Nation website. And round and round it goes.