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Is IRS ready to manage health care enforcement?

Reform proposals would give agency significant responsibility.

By Jeff Schnepper Jan 22, 2010 12:41PM

Congress now wants the IRS to manage major parts of the new health care reform.


New IRS responsibilities would include:

  • Remitting affordability credits to low-income earners to pay for coverage they will purchase through state-run exchanges.
  • Enforcing the insurance mandate on individuals who will pay a penalty with their returns if they don’t have insurance.
  • Implementing a new excise tax on high-cost health plans.
  • Collecting fees from companies that don’t provide mandated coverage.
  • Auditing the new income tax credit claimed by small companies to offset the cost of health benefits offered employees.
  • It’s not like the IRS has anything else to do -- like enforcing our tax laws?

And the IRS has been so successful lately in other programs, like the avalanche of bogus first-time homebuyer credits it recently allowed.

But the IRS is great at document matching. That’s if you ignore the Treasury report that showed the IRS missing more than $10 million in phony earned income credits each year.


It’s not that the IRS has no history in managing similar programs. There’s the existing credit for health coverage for displaced workers. The IRS has managed that for years.

We’ll just ignore the sampling of 2006 returns where nearly three-quarters of them failed to have the required documentation and may not have qualified. They got the credits anyway.


I’m not blaming the IRS. It has neither the funding nor sufficiently trained personnel to simply enforce our tax laws, no less the attenuated minutia Congress keeps piling on it.


The good news is that there will be fewer people available to do individual audits.


The bad news is that we’re paying for this garbage.


What do you think?


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