There ain’t no such thing as a free doctor visit. A bill introduced in the Iowa House yesterday is a little fuzzy on the concept of “volunteering.” For most of us, that would imply that you don’t get paid. That would change for doctors if the bill (H.F. 2270) passes. From the bill’s explanation:
The bill creates a physician donated services tax credit available against the individual income tax.
The credit will be equal to the product of a physician’s average hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours of free health care services furnished on a voluntary basis in this state by a physician during the tax year. The credit shall not exceed $10,000 per physician per year.
There is so much wrong with this, from the problems of determining an “average hourly rate” to the problems of monitoring how many “free” hours are claimed. But the whole idea is funky — this is a credit. It’s a dollar-for-dollar reduction in tax liability. It’s economically the same as if the state cut the doctor a check for up to $10,000 for services rendered. I suspect many doctors would embrace the concept of free service if it’s well-paid. Heck, I might do some pro-bono work if I got paid for it.
It’s hard to imagine this passing, but if it does, it’s time to revive my old plan for tax credits for the “fair value” of donations of artwork, so I can live my dream of curating the Museum of Deductible Art.
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The Forbes-hosted bloggers — Janet Novack, Peter Reilly, TaxGrrrl, and Tony Nitti — are all down, apparently as a result of some hack attack at Forbes. If there is an alternate site hosting these and you know about it, please let me know. If any of you Forbes folks want to post here in the meantime, just say the word and I will try to set you up with posting rights.
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