Arit John at The Wire joins the TPM/HuffPo/Tumulty triumvirate in screwing up the story about Matt Drudge’s pre-payment of the ObamaCare “liberty tax”:
Internet master Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report announced to the internet on Friday that he had paid the Obamacare individual mandate penalty, which he called a “liberty tax.” That’s unlikely.
The analysis is similar to the previously blogged TPM and HuffPo posts (and Karen Tumulty tweets), but I want to focus on an update with a blatant misstatement:
Update, Saturday: The Wire reached out to the H&R Block Tax Institute, which said you’re free to over pay your tax obligation on your quarterly estimated tax form, but the IRS has “no way to designate it as penalty prepayment.” The line item for “other taxes owed” doesn’t mention the health law penalty, and the IRS still needs to offer guidance over several aspects of the penalty, the company said in an email.
“The line item for ‘other taxes owed’ doesn’t mention the health law penalty”?? The hell it doesn’t. I covered this in my previous post, and will republish the screenshot here:
The weird part is, the next paragraph of the update quotes exactly that language, but the significance of it seems lost on the Wire blogger:
“When the return is filed (in 2015) the overpayment of the estimated taxes likely would get netted against all taxes due and cover the penalty,” according to H&R Block. The actual estimated tax form states the mandate should be paid with the 2014 return next year, though “you may want to consider this when figuring your ‘Other taxes’” owed.
Um, it says “you may want to consider this when figuring your ‘Other taxes’ owed” right now, as part of your estimated taxes that you have to pre-pay.
Although, as I noted in my previous post, there is an obscure Treasury regulation (.pdf) that says the government won’t come after you for not pre-paying the ObamaCare “penalty” (actually ruled a “tax” by the Supreme Court), anyone filling out the Estimated Tax Worksheet would be led to believe they need to pre-pay the ObamaCare payment. For the Wire to say otherwise, and claim that the form does not mention the health care payment, is just sloppy and wrong.
I’ll contact the Wire and explain the error, as I did with TPM and Huffo and Tumulty. All three of them have so far ignored me. Any bets on how the Wire guy will handle it?