IRS starts enforcing Obamacare employer mandate

The IRS has issued guidance that it is enforcing Obamacare’s individual mandate.

Despite Republican attempts to do away with it, Obamacare is still the law, and that means the IRS has started enforcing the mandate that businesses with 50 or more employees offer affordable insurance or face fines.

The decision comes even as President Donald Trump has tried to weaken enforcement of the law.

The New York Times reports:

Thousands of businesses — many of them small or midsize — will soon receive a letter saying that they owe the government money because they failed to offer their workers qualifying health insurance. The first round of notices, which the I.R.S. began sending late last month, are being mailed to companies that have at least 100 full-time employees and ran afoul of the law in 2015, the year that the mandate took effect.

Large companies, defined in the law as those with 50 or more workers, are required to offer their employees affordable insurance or pay stiff tax penalties. The I.R.S. held off for years on assessing those fines, saying that it needed more time, and money, to build its compliance systems.

Now, the agency says it is finally ready to go after scofflaws.

President Donald Trump has issued an executive order ordering agencies to defer carrying out as many as the Affordable Care Act provisions as possible. But the Treasury Department said last week it was legally required to carry out the employer mandate. The Times reports:

The law’s exact rules are complex, but businesses will generally incur fines of around $2,000 per employee (excluding the first 30) if they do not offer qualifying coverage to nearly all of those who work an average of 30 or more hours a week. The penalty is activated if at least one employee then buys insurance on the health law’s marketplace and receives a subsidy for it.

The per-employee fine increases each year, and can add up quickly: A company with 100 workers that ignored the law this year would owe a penalty of more than $158,000.

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