Attorney-at-Law

THE COBRA BITE

In Uncategorized on 08/29/2022 at 15:50

That’s what Jaroslaw Sek and Danuta Petrow-Sek, T. C. Memo. 2022-87, filed 8/29/22 feel, after Jaroslaw takes his 18-months of COBRA medical insurance from his ex-boss, and then takes four more from the NY Exchange. The parties don’t seem sure of the proper name for said exchange, but it’s NY’s meet-and-match for ACA beneficiaries.

Jaroslaw claims the COBRA premiums as Health Care Tax Credits, but Judge Gale sinks that.

“The HCTC allowed under section 35 is ‘an amount equal to 72.5 percent of the amount paid by the taxpayer for coverage of the taxpayer and qualifying family members under qualified health insurance for eligible coverage months beginning in the taxable year.’ §35(a). A month is an eligible coverage month only if, among other requirements, the taxpayer  ‘is an eligible individual.’ § 35(b)(1)(A)(i). To be an eligible individual for HCTC purposes, a taxpayer generally must receive certain benefits under the Trade Act of 1974 or from the PBGC. § 35(c). A spouse or other qualified relative of an eligible individual may also be treated as an eligible individual during a 24-month period following the occurrence of certain events, including the death of the eligible individual or the finalization of a divorce from the eligible individual. See § 35(g)(10).

“Petitioners have stipulated that neither of them received any of the types of benefits… that would have made them eligible individuals for HCTC purposes. Petitioners have also stipulated that neither of them was a family member of a deceased eligible individual, and they have not otherwise raised any factual dispute suggesting a possibility that either of them could be treated as an eligible individual for purposes of the HCTC….” T. C. Memo. 2022-87, at p. 5.

But Jaroslaw and Danuta make the 400% of poverty cut (319%), so they’re in the zone for the Premium Tax Credit after they’ve finished with COBRA. The plan they bought from the NY Exchange was a wee bit too rich for full PTC, but Jaroslaw didn’t get any Advance Premium Assistance, so they can get the full $1700 credit that Judge Gale calculates at pp. 9-10.

Jaroslaw claims equitable relief, in that the whole system is incomprehensible, IRS’ guidance is opaque, his COBRA cover costs almost the same as the Exchange’s (did ya expect a bargain in NY, Jaroslaw?), and that a NYS unemployment office type told him to take COBRA first.

Judge Gale is sympathetic but has no equitable jurisdiction, and IRS waives the chops.

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