Wednesday, May 15, 2013

ObamaCare's Regulator ... The IRS ... Is This Really Happening? ... Yes, I'm afraid So

For those who are concerned about ObamaCare, there's another issue now on the table. The IRS will be regulating the new health care law.

That should be interesting.

Your Next IRS Political Audit is subtitled 'The tax agency is getting vast new power in health care:'

"Even as the politicized tax enforcement scandal expands, the Internal Revenue Service continues to expand its political powers thanks to the Affordable Care Act. A larger government always creates more openings for abuse, as Americans will learn when the IRS starts auditing their health care in addition to their 1040 next year. . . .

This March the IRS Inspector General reiterated that ObamaCare's 47 major changes to the revenue code "represent the largest set of tax law changes the IRS has had to implement in more than 20 years." Thus the IRS is playing Thelma to the Health and Human Service Department's Louise. The tax agency has requested funding for 1,954 full-time equivalent employees for its Affordable Care Act office in 2014.

Instead of going after tax cheats, these bureaucrats will write and enforce tax regulations for parts of the economy in which they have no core competence. For example, do ski instructors or public school teachers count as seasonal workers? How long is a "full time" work week? Is it 40 hours, or 30?

The IRS will also dispense ObamaCare's insurance subsidies since technically they're "advanceable" tax credits, i.e., transfer payments made prior to filing a tax return. The IRS will also police the individual mandate-tax to buy health insurance, as well as the business penalties for not offering Washington-approved coverage to employees.

To monitor compliance with these rules, the IRS and HHS are now building the largest personal information database the government has ever attempted. Known as the Federal Data Services Hub, the project is taking the IRS's own records (for income and employment status) and centralizing them with information from Social Security (identity), Homeland Security (citizenship), Justice (criminal history), HHS (enrollment in entitlement programs and certain medical claims data) and state governments (residency). . . .

Good luck in advance to anyone who gets caught in this system's gears, assuming it even works. Centralizing so much personal information in one place is another invitation for the IRS wigglers in some regional office—or maybe higher up—to make political decisions about enforcement.

A small harbinger: The original 61-page application for ObamaCare subsidies (since junked) asked about voter registration and invited beneficiaries to sign up then and there. What does that have to do with affordable health care?

Or take the recent HHS disclosure that Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been beseeching the industries she regulates like insurers, hospitals and drug makers for "independent" donations. Ms. Sebelius will then take this money and give it to third-party groups—many affiliated with the Obama Administration—that will encourage people to sign up for ObamaCare.

The distinction between soliciting and demanding is especially vague when the IRS is the bad cop, with millions of dollars on corporate balance sheets potentially at risk. . . . Giving in advance to Ms. Sebelius can quickly begin to look like protection money to avoid corporate tax retribution.

Putting the IRS in charge of a political program inevitably makes the IRS more political. Since the Affordable Care Act converts every health question into a political question, maybe there's a better candidate?"

Summing Up

Our government's already too big role in health care is getting bigger, and the IRS as the government's 'chief intimidator' will grow in both size and influence as a result of the newly enacted Affordable Care Act.

In other words, ObamaCare is on its way to full implementation and will be brought to We the People by that most professional, objective and non-political of all government agencies, the IRS.

What's not to like about that, other than everything?

Right now the whole idea of national health care legislation regulated by the IRS sounds perfectly awful to me.

And that's even worse than ObamaCare used to sound to me, which has always been pretty awful.

Stay tuned.

Thanks. Bob.

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