Roskam: Obamacare and the IRS – A disastrous combination
After recent news reports revealed that IRS agents were engaged in widespread, systematic targeting of individuals based on their political and religious beliefs, Americans were rightly outraged. Subsequent Congressional investigations revealed not only were people harassed by agents, but IRS officials had been caught leaking confidential taxpayer information and squandering away millions of tax dollars.
In light of these myriad scandals, the House of Representatives moved to enforce strict oversight of the IRS, curbing their power and putting strong checks in place to prevent future abuses. But thanks to the president’s health care law, the IRS is poised to expand into the health insurance business. That’s right, the very same agency caught harassing Americans and mishandling their tax information is tasked with the massive undertaking of implementing and enforcing Obamacare. IRS agents will now be collecting information on individual’s health status, enforcing the requirement that everyone get health insurance and fining those who don’t have coverage. In total, the agency will run point on almost 50 new provisions of the health care law. Summing up the cause for serious concern, the Treasury Department watchdog called the number of new responsibilities given to the IRS, “unprecedented in recent history.”
Making matters worse, recent changes in the health care law’s rollout could lead to even more IRS intrusion. In July, the Obama Administration announced they would delay for one year the requirement that employers offer their employees health insurance. However, the Administration left in place the requirement that individuals purchase insurance. The disjointed delay will likely leave many Americans unsure of where to go for their health care. It’s easy to imagine someone thinking their employer isn’t offering insurance, seeking coverage from the law’s state-based health care exchanges and receiving a federal subsidy for care. But come tax season, if the IRS deems the individual was in fact not eligible for the federal benefit, they could be hit with thousands of dollars in fines. It’s a nightmare scenario for people simply trying to comply with the law.
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