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The IRS Affordable Care Act Office


As soon as I saw that ABC story, I wondered: “Is that the office that will send be sending the crippling HHS abortion-drug, contraception, sterilization bills?”

(Yes – Of course I’d think that.)

What confidence that would inspire. 

Much Obamacare and IRS related raises more questions than answers are available for, and this isn’t any different.

As Dave Weigel has noted, you can’t actually find an “Affordable Care Act Office” on the IRS website.

Someone who knows the weeds of the health-care bill hazards a guess at the answer:

Someone who IRS basically has four operating divisions organized according to the type of taxpayer, (and not according to sections of the tax code): 1) Wage and Investment (i.e., individuals), 2) Small Business/Self-Employed, 3) Large business and International , and 4) Non-profit and Governmental. 

I assume enforcement will actually be done by those four divisions.  So, for example, the common requirement that employers withhold individual taxes from their employees wages would be enforced by the three divisions dealing with different types of employers, while the requirement that you report your wage income on your 1040 would be enforced by the “Wage and Investment” division that deals with individual taxpayers.

Thus, the preventive services mandate would be enforced on employers by the three IRS divisions dealing with employers, and in most cases could also be enforced by Labor through ERISA.  Separately, this and other PHSA provisions are enforced on multi-employer plans (e.g. the Carpenters Union plan) by Labor and on commercial insurers by HHS.

My guess is that the ”Affordable Care Act Office” is probably some sort of cross-divisional coordinator role within IRS. Assuming it does exist on some (non-public) detailed organizational chart, it probably consists of a handful of staff directly under the Commissioner tasked with making sure all the different parts of PPACA that the IRS has to implement fit together.  

For example, one part of the law says an individual can’t get the new tax credit for exchange coverage if he has access to “affordable,” “minimum essential” coverage from his employer.  Another part of the law says that a large employer is penalized if it doesn’t  offer ”affordable,” “minimum essential” coverage to its workers.  Still another part of the law exempts small employers from that requirement and spells out criteria for who qualifies as a “small employer” for purposes of that exemption.  So, in order for these interactions to all make sense, somebody at IRS has to check that the rules applied to these three different types of taxpayers all match up. 

“You can see why IRS wants a bigger budget and staff,” he adds.

Had enough bureaucracy 101 with your coffee? 


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