Sunday, February 03, 2019

ACA Shared Responsibility Payment Did Not Violate Taxpayer's Free Exercise Rights

In Cash v. Internal Revenue Service, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11603 (MD PA, Jan. 23, 3019), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a taxpayer's claim that the tax ("shared responsibility payment") imposed by the Affordable Care Act for failing to maintain health insurance violated plaintiff's free exercise rights under the 1st Amendment and RFRA.  Plaintiff Robert Cash alleged that, "[a]lthough not required by [his religious denomination] to forego health insurance, [he] has chosen, as a matter of personal faith, to put his health needs in the hands of his Lord rather than the government's health insurance scheme." The court concluded however that the provision is a neutral law of general applicability. It went on to conclude that Cash failed to allege any facts establishing that the requirement restricted or imposed anything more than a de minimis burden on Cash's religious practice.