First Administration Changes its Mind on Whether Mandate is a Tax or Penalty. Then They Change Mind on Due Date

October 17th, 2013

This story from Politico via Peter Suderman is stunning. The Administration didn’t realize when the Obamacare mandate was due. It took an outside tax prepare to identify the mistake.

The deadline to enroll in health coverage and not pay a penalty next year is not the same deadline as the end of the open enrollment period, March 31. It’s actually February 15. Which means that while you can still enroll after February 15, you’ll have to pay the penalty for going uninsured if you do.

What’s terrifying isn’t the earlier date itself, but the facepalm-worthy fact that the administration, including the Internal Revenue Service, seems not have known about the earlier date until very recently when it was pointed out to them. From the piece:

In general, Americans have until the end of March to enroll in a 2014 Obamacare plan, but to avoid a tax penalty, they’ll have to sign up by mid-February. This quirk, unearthed by industry observers, appears to have gone previously unnoticed by the administration.

“The IRS didn’t know that,” said Jackson Hewitt Vice President Brian Haile, who recently brought the issue to the administration’s attention.

Now that this shutdown mess is over, perhaps we can focus some more attention on the incompetence with which this plan is operating.