Penalty vs. tax in Obama’s health care law

Updated

The Supreme Court began three days of oral arguments Monday on President Obama’s sweeping health care law that requires Americans to buy health insurance. First item on the agenda: whether the court even has the right to make a decision now.

An obscure 19th century law, the Anti-Injunction Act, says no federal tax can be challenged before it goes into effect. So that means, if they find it to be a tax, the justices may decide they can’t make any call now (ie. talk to us in 2015).

Basically, is it really a tax if it’s only enforced with a tax penalty on individual tax returns?

After hearing Monday’s proceedings, NBC’s Pete Williams reported “there didn’t seem to be a single member of the Supreme Court that bought that argument” that it’s a tax. He said, “we’re obviously going to go on to the main event which is the individual mandate which will be argued tomorrow.”

Affordable Care Act, Obamacare and Supreme Court

Penalty vs. tax in Obama's health care law

Updated