Supreme Court Begins Hearing Arguments in Health Reform Case

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The U.S. Supreme Court appears skeptical of the claim that the tax anti-injunction act bars consideration of the larger health reform law that includes a mandate requiring most U.S. citizens to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. Before the court can reach the central issues, however, it must decide whether the AIA bars its consideration of the case. The question is relevant because those who do not buy health insurance in compliance with the health reform law's individual mandate must pay a penalty, which is to be collected by the Internal Revenue Service as if it were a tax. Because the individual mandate does not go into effect until 2014, and the earliest a penalty for noncompliance could be assessed is 2015, the argument has been made that a decision on the constitutionality of the mandate at this time would effectively restrain the assessment and collection of a tax that would not become due until 2015.