IRS struggles to track its 'Obamacare' spending: watchdog

WASHINGTON Wed Sep 25, 2013 10:41pm EDT

A general view of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Building in Washington, May 14, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

A general view of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Building in Washington, May 14, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Internal Revenue Service needs to do a better job tracking its spending related to President Barack Obama's new healthcare law, an IRS watchdog said on Wednesday.

With Congress debating whether to take funding away from the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said in an audit that the IRS failed to account for some of the agency's spending to implement the law.

Federal agencies must report their spending so there is an accurate measure of the full cost of government programs.

The IRS did not report $67 million in costs the agency incurred for employees who were working on the healthcare law for fiscal 2010 through 2012, the report said.

The money was part of $488 million the IRS tapped from a special fund the agency was using to implement Obamacare.

"Funding related to direct labor were sometimes inaccurate and not always substantiated by reliable supporting documentation," TIGTA said.

TIGTA's report recommended the IRS improve its record-keeping. IRS said in response that it agreed with TIGTA's recommendations and had already put fixes in place.

"The IRS ensured that ACA funds were accurately tracked," adding that it spent appropriately the money it used from the special fund, the agency said in a statement.

Enacted in March 2010, the healthcare law made many tax code changes, including requiring the IRS to verify that most people have health insurance in 2014. It must also disperse new tax credits meant to help people meet their insurance costs.

The IRS expects to spend $360 million on Obamacare implementation in fiscal 2013, which ends September 30, TIGTA said.

Unless Congress gives the IRS more money for the healthcare law, the agency will have to dip into its operating budget, already cut by Congress, TIGTA said.

Republicans in the House of Representatives have proposed cutting the IRS budget by 24 percent in fiscal 2014 and have voted repeatedly to defund Obamacare.

The Obama administration's fiscal 2014 budget requested $440 million for the IRS to administer the law's tax provisions.

(Reporting by Patrick Temple-West; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Eric Beech)

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Comments (10)
visceralrebel wrote:
And these are the people who will take your property, imprison you and/or garnish your wages if you can’t PROVE to them you qualify for every dollar of write-off or exemption.

Hypocrites and slave-masters, the lot of them.

I hope you enjoy having these idiots dictating your health care, America.

Yes, you did.

Sep 26, 2013 8:18am EDT  --  Report as abuse
bobinmo wrote:
The story here is the IRS can’t keep a set of book showing how they’re spending money on Obamacare. What a surprise? Meanwhile you can darn well bet the IRS will hold us accountable for every penny. Thank goodness we can since the IRS has a power base that should scare every single American. Who cares if the IRS hired people for unknown amounts to do an unknown job. It’s not like it’s real money. SORRY FOLKS, IT IS! IT’S OURS!

Sep 26, 2013 8:24am EDT  --  Report as abuse
INTJ wrote:
How would the IRS react if citizens “did not report” $67 million?

Sep 26, 2013 9:01am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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