On August 15 I wrote about the lawsuit Tax Analysts had just filed under the Freedom of Information Act against the IRS, seeking all documents used since 2009 to train IRS personnel in the exempt organizations determinations office in Cincinnati. We were trying to get to the bottom of what the agency did to get it to the point of being forced to admit last May that it had inappropriately targeted some conservative organizations that were seeking tax exemption under section 501(c)(4) of the tax law.
Well, earlier this week, the IRS released more than 1,500 pages of documents that it says provide the bulk of what we asked for. It’s still too early to ascertain exactly what these records say or what the meaning of “bulk” is, as we are still combing through the documents. However, it’s news in itself that the IRS actually released something. And maybe, just maybe, that’s a good sign. We’ll certainly let you know.
This “scandal” was not the IRS’s finest moment. By its own admission, it applied the law inappropriately – which means it applied the law unfairly. By the assessment of many, including me, at the very least it also performed stupidly – which means it performed incompetently. That brings me to the government’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act – or, as the president calls it, Obamacare. Its rollout has been nothing less than an embarrassment and a glaring example of government incompetence at its worst.
And what lies ahead? The perfect storm: The IRS and the ACA brought together by a hapless Congress that tasked the nation’s tax collector with administering portions of our new healthcare system.
The ACA contains 47 tax provisions with effective dates through 2018. These provisions cover things like the individual mandate and section 1441 of the tax law, which imposes a 3.8 percent tax on the net investment income of some taxpayers and estates and trusts. The IRS has already received more than 1 million requests from new health care exchanges to determine if taxpayers are eligible for the health insurance premium tax credit under section 36B of the tax law. Another ACA provision, not in the tax code but to be administered by the IRS, is a health insurance provider fee that a Treasury official describes as being “complicated” to administer – in this case, I’d bet complicated is a synonym for nightmare.
I can see a day coming when a taxpayer gets a letter from her insurance provider canceling her healthcare coverage and then a letter from the IRS informing her that she owes additional taxes under the ACA. Apparently our government thinks that two nightmare bureaucracies must be better for us than one.
By: Christopher Bergin