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IRS vs. PPACA: What the GAO said

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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has not yet processed many tax returns that include claims for the new health insurance premium tax credit, but it’s nervous about the future.

Analysts at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) talk about the possible effects of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) premium tax credit complications on the IRS in a report on IRS resources prepared at the request of a bipartisan group of members of Congress.

Complicated PPACA-related questions could contribute to a 20 percent increase in demand for IRS customer-service reps this year, and reduce the number of calls the reps have time to answer about 27 percent, James McTigue Jr., a GAO director, writes in a summary of the analysts’ work.

The IRS, an arm of the U.S. Treasury Department, is getting $11 billion in appropriations this year and has about 81,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers.

The agency is asking for $12.9 billion in overall funding for fiscal year 2016, which starts Oct. 1. About $3.2 billion would go toward information technology projects of all types.

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The IRS wants to increase staffing 11 percent, to 91,000 FTEs. 

The agency spent $397 million on PPACA projects in 2014, and it plans to spend $490 million on PPACA projects in 2016. 

In 2016, the IRS could have 2,539 FTEs, or 3 percent of its staff, working on PPACA-related activities: 1,232 helping taxpayers with PPACA questions, 432 working on PPACA enforcement, and 875 working on PPACA operations support.

The biggest IRS PPACA-related charge, for $306 million, would go toward creating and running PPACA premium tax credits administration system. The tax credit administration program would have 818 FTEs.

See also: PPACA Stars at IRS Budget Hearing