NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

ObamaCare Mandates Dramatically Expand the Internal Revenue Service's Power

May 22, 2013

Much of the talk in the news this week regards the appalling scandal involving IRS targeting of conservative non-profit groups. So it's worth noting that ObamaCare dramatically expands the authority and the scope of the Internal Revenue Service. Two provisions in particular will require thousands of new IRS agents, and billions in funding, to enforce: the law's individual mandate, forcing most Americans to buy government-approved health insurance; and its employer mandate, forcing most employers to take money out of workers' paychecks to purchase costly health insurance on their behalf. Here's why these two provisions are so intrusive, and why the only solution to the problems they create is to repeal them, says Avik Roy, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute.

Many People Are Exempt from the Individual Mandate.

  • It turns out that many people are exempt from the mandate, and so the IRS has to know a lot about you in order to decide whether you are in compliance with it.
  • To enforce the individual mandate, the IRS needs to know whether or not you have purchased insurance this year.
  • It will also need to know the specific insurance policy you have, in order to ensure that it meets ObamaCare's "minimum essential coverage" requirement.

The Employer Mandate Incentivizes "Unaffordable" Coverage.

  • To enforce the employer mandate, the IRS needs the same information from employers in terms of the specific policies employers purchase for their workers, and also the hours worked by every part-time employee.
  • In addition, your employer will need to know what your household income is, in order to ensure that the coverage it offers you is "affordable" to you by the law's definition.

The only viable solution to this problem is to repeal the employer mandate altogether, and to replace the individual mandate with something else, like a limited open enrollment period, that does not require expanding the power and the authority of the IRS.

Repealing the employer mandate will give employers additional incentive to dump workers onto ObamaCare's exchanges. But, says Roy, this is on balance a good thing, because it will mean that individuals can shop for insurance themselves, something that economists of all stripes support.

Source: Avik Roy, "Two ObamaCare Mandates that Dramatically Expand the Internal Revenue Service's Power," Forbes, May 17, 2013.


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