Few Changes Ahead for IRS Related to ACA Repeal Effort

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By Colleen Murphy

Republicans’ failed efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act ended months of speculation about what role the Internal Revenue Service would play in an overhauled health-care system.

The role remains the same: The agency plans to enforce and administer tax provisions of the law and move forward on guidance projects it may have avoided advancing during the months of tumult in Congress, health-care lawyers told Bloomberg BNA.

The House-passed bill (H.R. 1628) would have repealed ACA tax provisions, implemented a new system of tax credits, and zeroed-out coverage requirement penalties. A pared-down version of the bill failed in the Senate on July 28, which means there now is no clear path to pass a health-care bill after lawmakers return in September.

“Cadillac” tax. The 40 percent levy on employer health-care premiums that exceed $10,800 for individuals and $29,500 for combined households is to take effect in 2020. Practitioners said the IRS is likely to issue some guidance on the tax soon so employers may start planning.

The Republican and Democratic parties have criticized the levy, which was delayed until 2026 in the House-passed health bill and in a June Senate version, though it was retained in what ultimately came to the Senate floor.

The IRS also could offer guidance on other health areas, resolving questions for employers, but declined to comment on its plans.

Enforcement. An executive order signed Jan. 20 by President Donald Trump directed agencies to reduce the law's burdens. Dana Trier, the newly appointed deputy assistant secretary for tax policy, is also expected to play a large role in coordinating guidance and implementing administrative priorities.

Under the ACA, individuals are required to maintain coverage, and employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees are required to provide it. The Trump administration likely would try to push back against those requirements, lawyers said, although the IRS has repeatedly said the requirements must be met as long as the law is in place.

To contact the reporter on this story: Colleen Murphy in Washington at cmurphy@bna.com To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Baer at mbaer@bna.com.

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