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June 10th, 2013 11:54 am
Obamacare’s Contraception Mandate Runs Through the IRS
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Here’s a troubling prospect: Americans who want to assert their rights of religious conscience will have to go through the famously scrupulous Internal Revenue Service to do so. Ashley E. McGuire writing in the Weekly Standard:

On August 1, the one-year “safe harbor” for religious charities objecting to provisions of Obamacare will end. Starting then, these nonprofit employers will be forced to violate their religious beliefs or pay large fines. In charge of collecting the fines will be our recently newsworthy friends at the Internal Revenue Service.

… Faced with the public outcry, the government did allow nonexempt religious organizations​—​hospitals, universities, charities, and so on​—​a year to get over their scruples and figure out how to comply. That year ends on August 1, when another 30 or so lawsuits filed by objecting nonprofits will be activated. But now, enter stage left: the IRS.

The way the regulation is written, it is the IRS that determines whether an organization qualifies for full exemption from the HHS mandate. To qualify, an organization must be a nonprofit as described in section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii) (oh, my!) of the amended Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and therefore exempt from filing Form 990, which most nonprofits must file annually.

The good news: in the short term, the IRS is likely to be so conscious of the extra scrutiny it’s under because of the scandal involving tea party groups that it applies an exceedingly light tough in dealing with organizations trying to gain exemption from the mandate. The bad news: wayward government agencies, like misbehaving children, have a tendency to straighten up and fly right only as long as they know they’re being observed.

Even if the IRS discharges this duty with as much objectivity as possible, however, it doesn’t alleviate the underlying problem. No bureaucrat — nor any politician, for that matter — should possess power so sweeping that they get to decide whether or not someone’s religious beliefs earn indulgence from the state. It’s government at its most intrusive. And it’s one more reason that the contraception mandate — and Obamacare with it — needs to be discarded.

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