The IRS says it is well on its way to gearing up for the new law but has offered little information about its long-term budget and staffing needs, generating complaints from Republican lawmakers and concern from government watchdogs.
The IRS is expected to spend $881 million on the law from 2010 through 2013, hiring more than 2,700 new workers and upgrading its computer systems. But the IRS has not made public information about its spending plans in the following years, when the bulk of the health care law takes effect.
The lack of information makes it impossible to determine whether the IRS will have adequate workers to enforce the health care law, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration said in a report three weeks ago. The report, however, concluded that "appropriate plans had been developed to implement tax-related provisions" of the law.
In 2010, House Ways and Means Committee Republicans issued a report saying the IRS may need as many as 16,500 additional auditors, agents and other employees "to investigate and collect billions in new taxes from Americans."
That assessment has been widely cited by opponents of the law. The IRS disputes the jobs number but hasn't offered another one.
"That is a made-up number with no basis in fact," IRS spokesman Dean Patterson said in an email. "The 2012 budget calls for about 1,200 employees for the IRS to implement the (Affordable Care Act), and the vast majority of those employees are needed to build technology infrastructure to support payments like the new tax credits for individuals and small businesses."
Republicans on the House committee have accused the IRS of obscuring its cost of putting in place the health care law by absorbing it into in other parts of the agency's budget. They cite a June report by the Government Accountability Office that said the IRS has not always accurately identified spending related to the new health care law.
"The agency's repeated lack of transparency to Congress and its failure to provide accountability to the American taxpayers raises fundamental concerns about implementation authorities vested to the IRS," the top four Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee wrote in a June 27 letter to the IRS commissioner.
The committee chairman, Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., has scheduled a hearing on the tax implications of the Supreme Court's ruling for Tuesday.
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