At National Journal
, Michael Catalini asks rhetorically: what is the connection between the IRS
and the Affordable Care Act
The short answer is: a substantial one. In his ruling on the constitutionality of Obama's health care law, Chief Justice John Roberts that Congress can regulate health care under its ability to tax. That set up the agency to take a lead in implementing the law, along with the Health and Human Services Department. (The Labor Department will also play a role.) There are 47 tax provisions -- including the small business health care credit and the medical device tax -- that will go into effect. The agency will have to administer those provisions and collect taxes where they're due.
The agency will also have to determine whether people qualify for a health insurance premium tax credit as part of the minimum coverage requirement. Americans will also have to report their insurance status on their taxes each year, and the agency will have to review that and collect a $95 penalty on those not carrying insurance. Businesses will be required to provide health care to their employees or face a penalty if they do not. The agency will set these rules and collect the penalties when businesses aren't in compliance.
And what is the connection between the IRS scandal and the health law? CBS explains
Sarah Hall Ingram was the head of the IRS office overseeing tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012, during which time the agency initiated a practice of paying additional - and often burdensome - scrutiny to conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt nonprofit status. While there is no evidence that Ingram sanctioned or was even aware of the targeting practices, conservatives have cried foul about her new role as head of the IRS' Affordable Care Act office.
Defenders of the administration say that IRS
targeting of conservative groups resulted from incompetence, not political malice. But if IRS employees
in general --and Ms. Ingram in particular -- are so incompetent, then prospects for successful implementation of the law are pretty grim.