IRS chief: Blame rotten customer service, data hacks on Obamacare…

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By RUDY TAKALA

Both cybersecurity and customer service at the Internal Revenue Service have suffered because of Obamacare, the agency’s head said in remarks to Congress on Thursday.

“Congress, as I noted in my testimony, has underfunded … the Affordable Care Act,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told a panel of the House Appropriations Committee. “That does not remove the statutory mandate we have that we have to implement the act.”

Koskinen delivered his remarks in response to a question from Chairman Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., who pointed out that Congress had “increased funding specifically for taxpayer services” in 2014 and 2016.

Koskinen said it didn’t matter where Congress intended the money to go, explaining the agency had pulled funding for customer service and cybersecurity in order to ensure compliance with the ACA.

“As I said two years ago, at the continued level of underfunding, the things that were going to suffer were going to be enforcement, taxpayer service, and ultimately … information technology,” Koskinen said.

More than eight million phone calls to the agency’s customer service line went unanswered in the last filing season. Koskinen added that the agency hasn’t fully funded customer service for the last “three or four years,” and that about $900 million had been pulled from cybersecurity.

The agency has been hit with at least two successful cyberattacks in the past year. A cyberattack last year resulted in the theft of data on 330,000 taxpayers from the agency’s “Get Transcript” database, while an attack last week resulted in the loss of special personal identification numbers associated with 101,000.

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President Obama’s budget proposal for fiscal 2017 would increase funding for the IRS from $10.9 billion in 2016 to $12.2 billion in 2017, an increase of about 12 percent.

Illegals benefited from $750M in ObamaCare subsidies…

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Illegal immigrants and individuals with unclear legal status wrongly benefited from up to $750 million in ObamaCare subsidies and the government is struggling to recoup the money, according to a new Senate report obtained by Fox News.

The report, produced by Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, examined Affordable Care Act tax credits meant to defray the cost of insurance premiums. It found that as of June 2015, “the Administration awarded approximately $750 million in tax credits on behalf of individuals who were later determined to be ineligible because they failed to verify their citizenship, status as a national, or legal presence.”

The review found the credits went to more than 500,000 people – who are illegal immigrants or whose legal status was unclear due to insufficient records.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirmed to FoxNews.com on Monday that 471,000 customers with 2015 coverage failed to produce proper documentation on their citizenship or immigration status on time – but stressed that this does not necessarily mean they’re ineligible.

“Lack of verification does not mean an individual is ineligible for financial assistance, but only that a Marketplace did not receive sufficient information to verify eligibility in the time period outlined in the law,” CMS spokesman Aaron Albright said.

The Senate report also accused the administration of lacking a solid plan to get that money back – and predicted that in the end, the IRS will be “unable to fully recoup the funds.”

“The information provided to the Committee by the IRS and HHS reveals a troubling lack of coordination between the two agencies … and demonstrates that the IRS and HHS neglected to consider how they would recover these wasteful payments,” the report says.

Under the law, the feds can dole out these payments on a temporary basis if a recipient’s legal status is unclear, but are supposed to cut off funding and coverage if the recipient does not later come up with the paperwork. Up to a half-million “ineligible” people, according to the report, applied in this way — with their credits paid in advance to the insurers. The IRS, though, is supposed to get overpayments back from the individuals themselves.

The Senate report, based on a review launched by committee Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., derisively describes this approach as “pay and chase.”

In other words, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pays credits and subsidies to the insurance companies on behalf of the applicants – and the feds then “chase” after any overpayments to ineligible people once they are discovered.

“This ‘pay and chase’ model has potentially cost taxpayers approximately $750 million,” the report says. The 500,000 individuals in question have been removed from coverage, according to the findings, as the government seeks to get the money back.

The Senate report says the IRS and HHS initially failed to coordinate on a plan for recouping funds, and claimed that a subsequent plan from the IRS to recoup the money is still “ineffective and insufficient.”

In a July letter to Johnson, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen assured that the agency is “committed to identifying and efficiently addressing” improper payments. He reiterated that anyone “not lawfully present” who enrolls for ObamaCare coverage “must repay” the advance premium credit payments, and would be breaking the law if they don’t.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram and FoxNews.com’s Judson Berger contributed to this report.

Rothschilds Prove that Elite Bankers Rule the World — Establish Billionaire Tax Haven INSIDE America

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BY JAY SYRMOPOULOS

‘Let the American people go into their debt-funding schemes and banking systems, and from that hour their boasted independence will be a mere phantom.” – William Pitt Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the inauguration of the first National Bank in the United States under Alexander Hamilton.

The process of moving massive amounts of international capital from typical tax havens, into the U.S., is being driven by a familiar name in the world of international finance – Rothschild & Co. Reno, NV – The U.S. is quickly becoming known as the new Switzerland of international banking, due to its refusal to sign onto the new global disclosurestandards, issued by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a government-funded international policy group.

Rothschild, a centuries-old European financial institution, manages the wealth of many of the world’s most wealthy families and has been instrumental in helping move the global elite’s wealth from traditional tax havens like the Bahamas, Switzerland and the British Virgin Islands to the U.S.

Driving the phenomena of international capital flow into the U.S. is its refusal to agree to the new international disclosure standards that it essentially wrote. After coercing almost 100 countries to sign on to the OECD disclosure standards, the U.S. now refuses to become a signatory.

“How ironic—no, how perverse—that the USA, which has been so sanctimonious in its condemnation of Swiss banks, has become the banking secrecy jurisdiction du jour,” wrotePeter A. Cotorceanu, a lawyer at Anaford AG, a Zurich law firm, in a recent legal journal. “That ‘giant sucking sound’ you hear? It is the sound of money rushing to the USA.”

The U.S. Treasury Department has proposed similar standards to OECD for foreign-owned U.S. accounts, but those proposals have failed due to political and banking industry opposition.

According to a report by Bloomberg:

For decades, Switzerland has been the global capital of secret bank accounts. That may be changing. In 2007, UBS Group AG banker Bradley Birkenfeld blew the whistle on his firm helping U.S. clients evade taxes with undeclared accounts offshore. Swiss banks eventually paid a price. More than 80 Swiss banks, including UBS and Credit Suisse Group AG, have agreed to pay about $5 billion to the U.S. in penalties and fines…

The U.S. was determined to put an end to such practices. That led to a 2010 law, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or Fatca, that requires financial firms to disclose foreign accounts held by U.S. citizens and report them to the IRS or face steep penalties.

Inspired by Fatca, the OECD drew up even stiffer standards to help other countries ferret out tax dodgers. Since 2014, 97 jurisdictions have agreed to impose new disclosure requirements for bank accounts, trusts, and some other investments held by international customers. Of the nations the OECD asked to sign on, only a handful have declined: Bahrain, Nauru, Vanuatu—and the United States.

After opening a trust company in Reno, Nev., Rothschild & Co. began ushering the massive fortunes of the world’s most wealthy individuals out of typical tax havens, now subject to OECD international disclosure requirements, and into the Rothschild run U.S. trusts, which are exempt from the international reporting requirements.

The impetus for the wealthy to put their money into the U.S. is the promise of confidentiality, which in itself is interesting – considering how little of it Americans actually have at this point.

In an odd twist of fate, the U.S. Treasury Department takes a very strong stand against international tax evasion – unless you put that money into a U.S trust account – which coincidentally is being helmed by Rothschild & Co.

The words of Andrew Penney, managing director of Rothschild & Co., are extremely clear to international investors; the U.S. is now the world’s biggest tax haven. In a draft for a presentation in San Francisco, Penny wrote that the U.S. “is effectively the biggest tax haven in the world.”

Penney, 56, is now a managing director based in London for Rothschild WealthManagement & Trust, which handles about $23 billion for 7,000 clients from offices including Milan, Zurich, and Hong Kong, according to Bloomberg Business. A few years ago he was voted “Trustee of the Year” by an elite group of U.K. wealth advisers.

For decades, Switzerland was the global capital for confidential bank accounts. But, in what seems like some kind of odd parallel universe, the U.S. has now become one of the only countries in the world where financial advisors actually promote that accounts will remain secret from international authorities.

So let’s be clear – if you are an international uber elite with vast amounts of wealth you can hide that capital in the U.S. to evade taxes, but if you are an average American citizen that refuses to pay your taxes, expect to be locked in a cage.

USA Falls From 6th Freest Economy to 11th Under Obama…

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BY ANTHONY B. KIM

Millions of people around the world are emerging from poverty thanks to rising economic freedom. But by sharp contrast, America’s economic freedom has been on a declining path over the past decade.

America’s declining score in the index is closely related to rapidly rising government spending, subsidies, and bailouts.

According to the 2016 Index of Economic Freedom, an annual publication by The Heritage Foundation, America’s economic freedom has tumbled. With losses of economic freedom in eight of the past nine years, the U.S. has tied its worst score ever, wiping out a decade of progress.

>>> Read the full 2016 Index of Economic Freedom

The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.  We’ll respect your inbox and keep you informed.

 

The U.S. has fallen from the 6th freest economy in the world, when President Barack Obama took office, to 11th place in 2016. America’s declining score in the index is closely related to rapidly rising government spending, subsidies, and bailouts.

Since early 2009:

  • Government spending has exploded, amounting to $29,867 per household in 2015.
  • The national debt has risen to $125,000 for every tax-filing household in America—a total over $18 trillion.
  • The government takeover of health care is raising prices and disrupting markets.
  • Bailouts and new government regulations have increased uncertainty, stifling investment and job creation.

This is not something to take lightly. Economic freedom is the foundation of U.S. economic strength, and economic strength is the foundation of America’s high living standards, military power, and status as a world leader. The perils of losing economic freedom are not fictional.

It is painfully clear that our economy has been performing far below its potential, with individuals, families, and entrepreneurs being squeezed by the proliferation of big-government bureaucracy and regulations.

As documented by the index, and by other scholars, America’s economic freedom has been declining at an alarming pace.

Indeed, as The Wall Street Journal recently summed it up succinctly, Obama is “a champion when it comes to limiting economic freedom, and American workers have the slow growth in jobs and wages to prove it.”

Not surprisingly, our economic dynamism and innovative capacity have been measurably reduced.

Not surprisingly, our economic dynamism and innovative capacity have been measurably reduced. Self-inflicted wounds include:

No wonder the labor force participation rate has remained at near record lowsafter more than five years of steady decline.

Worse, vibrant entrepreneurial growth has been stymied by greater policy uncertainty and mounting debt. And a disturbing trend toward cronyism has gravely eroded the rule of law and distorted our free-market system.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, keynote speaker of the official release of the 2016 Index, recently stated:

It’s been almost seven years since the Obama “recovery” began, and our economy is barely out of neutral. Why does America have to settle for this?

Restoring economic freedom is prerequisite to revitalizing and brightening America’s future. 2016 is the year to reaffirm the principles of limited government, free enterprise, and rule of law so that we can reconstitute an America where freedom, opportunity, and prosperity flourish.

The time to act is now.