Health Care Reform and the IRS: Obama Wants 81 Agents for the Tanning Tax Alone
Obama wants 1,293 IRS Employees For Health Care Law
How many IRS employees does it take to implement the health care law, which congressional Republicans derisively dub "Obamacare?" Opponents of the law made headlines last year saying it would require 16,000 new tax agents. Nonsense, said White House officials and other proponents.
Well, there are some hard numbers now for the first time. According to the new budget proposal from President Barack Obama, the answer is 1,269 new IRS employees. For now. (Remember, much of the health care law, including many of the new taxes on Cadillac health insurance plans and the investment income of wealthy people doesn’t actually take effect until 2013). All the details are in this dense IRS document here.
The document lays out exactly how many workers the IRS thinks it will take to administers specific proposals. Remember that new 10 percent tax on tanning salons? The IRS says it needs 81 people to administer it at a cost of $11.5 million. All told, there are about 35,000 businesses that offer indoor tanning, all of which will be struggling with collecting and remitting this tax for the first time. But there's good news: The IRS says it's "developed a comprehensive strategy" to help them pay up. There's also bad: About 1,000 tanning salons can expect to be audited.
The IRS says it will take 76 new employees and $29.3 million to make sure drug makers and health insurers pay new fees associated with selling some prescription drugs to the military, Medicare and veteran's hospitals. While the fee doesn't kick in until 2012, the agency says it needs the new hires to start collecting data and figuring out how much each company will owe.
Seventy-one new workers will be needed to reprogram IRS computers to make tax changes required in the health care law, at a cost of $14.9 million and 84 new agents to make sure nonprofit hospitals aren't secretly making untaxed profits,
Finally, the agency wants 65 new employees now to lay the groundwork for making sure Americans comply with a mandate that they buy insurance beginning in 2014. This is a far cry from the 16,000 Republicans predicted, but hey, there's still three more years to go.
On the upside, the agency says it will take 453 new employees and $23.9 million to make sure small businesses claim tax credits to which they are entitled for providing health insurance coverage to their own workers.
All of this is part of a budget proposal that seeks $1.1 billion in additional funds for the tax collector and 5,100 new employees. Granted, most of them are supposed to go after wealthy tax cheats who are hiding money in offshore bank accounts. That's probably a good thing.
Keep in mind, this is only a budget request. For next year. Republicans in Congress are actively trying to cut spending for the current fiscal year (that runs through Sept. 30). In order for any of these workers to be hired, Congress would have to approve the appropriation, which is unlikely to happen since Republicans are determined to repeal the health care law.
Which raises the question: What if they raised your taxes and no one was around to make sure you paid them?