BY: Follow @LizWFB
A new audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration warned that further changes to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act would create “challenges” for the IRS.
The Obama administration has repeatedly altered the law, delaying the employer mandate until 2015 and suspending numerous enrollment requirements due to the disastrous roll out of Healthcare.gov.
Health and Human Services (HHS) has been the “public face” of Obamacare since Oct. 1, handling customer service and enrollments on the health care exchange. The IRS, however, will take over these tasks beginning in 2015, and is urging consistency from the administration in order to prepare.
“Our audit found that the IRS has sufficient plans to provide customer service to taxpayers concerning the tax implications under the Affordable Care Act,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, in a press release.
“However, changes in ACA implementation will create challenges,” he said.
“Depending on the nature of any changes made to ACA tax provisions, the IRS’s strategy and plans to provide customer service, outreach, education, and employee training could be affected,” George said. “Changes to the provisions could also affect the IRS’s plans to update its tax forms, instructions, and publications.”
Republicans in Congress have repeatedly tried to repeal or delay the law. The House voted over 40 times to repeal the law in its entirety, and attempted to defund the law last fall, an impasse that led to a government shutdown.
The Obama administration has amended or delayed Obamacare 19 times.
The audit, released Monday, said changes like the employer mandate, which the administration unilaterally delayed in July 2013, create problems for the IRS.
“Changes in the implementation of ACA tax provisions can result in increased demand for customer service assistance resulting in more contacts with the IRS,” the audit said. “Depending on the nature of any changes made to ACA tax provisions, the IRS’s strategy and plans to provide adequate customer service; outreach and education; employee training; and tax forms, instructions, and publications could be affected.”
“For example, implementation of a key ACA provision related to the requirement for applicable employers to offer health insurance was delayed on July 2, 2013,” it said.
In order to “mitigate” against future changes to the law’s implementation, the IRS said it now has a monitoring process.
“These are in place to alert the IRS at the earliest possible time period of actions that may affect its operations,” the IG said. The IRS “monitors public debate, pending bills, legislation, regulations, and court activities,” and reviews bills moving through Congress that could alter Obamacare if passed.
The audit also detailed the new responsibilities for the IRS under Obamacare, which includes 50 tax provisions that “add to or amend” the 73,954-page Internal Revenue Code.
The IRS will administer the Premium Tax Credit (PTC), which are subsidies for health insurance in the marketplace that can be claimed on an individual’s tax return. According to the audit, individuals who earned $45,960 or less and a family of four who earned $94,200 or less in 2013 will qualify.
The IRS has a developed a “strategy” for its added responsibilities and taking over customer service from HHS, which includes outreach and education, updating its tax reforms and instructions, and providing employee training.
To prepare, the IRS has also recorded 10 “telephone messages” with information on Obamacare and is using Twitter and Facebook to “provide individuals with the latest information on ACA tax changes and services.”
The IRS will provide “face-to-face assistance at its 390 Taxpayer Assistance Centers” across the country starting in 2015 to offer assistance with Obamacare subsidies.