Capitol Hill lawmakers and staff are receiving tax-reporting forms that describe Congress as a large employer subject to Obamacare’s “employer mandate,” even as the administration describes the massive law-making body as a small business in other paperwork.
Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican and chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, said Wednesday that poses a paradox — the Office of Personnel Management deemed Congress to be small enough to use D.C.’s “SHOP” exchange for employers of 50 workers or less, yet it will report to the IRS that it is a large employer.
He wants to know if the disconnect amounts to a violation of the tax code.
“Obviously, Congress can’t have it both ways — it cannot be both a small employer and a large employer,” Mr. Vitter wrote to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “It is utterly absurd that Congress is trying to be both.”
The Affordable Care Act required members of Congress and their official staffers to buy insurance on the law’s health exchanges, but the Obama administration — through OPM — decided that if they used the D.C. small-business exchange, they could still get their employer subsidies to cover premiums.
Regular Americans who buy plans through the exchange are restricted from having employers contribute to their premiums.
The disconnect has caused some conservatives to object that D.C. insiders granted themselves special favors through an “Obamacare exemption.”
The tax form in question, known as a 1095-C, is a new document that employers will generate and provide to filers, who must report their health coverage status to the IRS.
It helps auditors determine whether employers with 50 or more workers are providing adequate health coverage or must pay fines, as dictated by Obamacare.
Though Treasury gave employers and insurers an extra few months to generate their tax-reporting forms this year, the 1095-Cs are tricking out to Capitol Hill employees now.
“You are receiving this Form 1095-C because your employer is an Applicable Large Employer, subject to the employer shared responsibility provision in the Affordable Care Act,” it says, according to a partially redacted copy obtained by The Washington Times.
Asked for comment, an OPM spokesman referred Wednesday to the agency’s initial rule making in 2013, which outlined its rationale for using the small-business exchange.
At the time, OPM said it made sense to use a SHOP to administer what amounted to an employer-based contribution to members’ health care, while shepherding members into an exchange as required by Obamacare.
The agency said it picked D.C.’s portal simply because Congress is located in the District.
Mr. Vitter has said the regulation itself is tainted, however, because Congress employs thousands and should not have been classified as a small business.
The senator is not seeking reelection this year after losing his gubernatorial bid back home to Democrat John Bel Edwards.
But he is still pursuing his one-man crusade to get the bottom of Congress’s “Obamacare exemption.”
Earlier this month, he warned acting OPM administrator Beth F. Cobert on Tuesday that he might hold up her nomination before the Senate unless he gets unredacted documents that shed light on OPM’s decision to designate Congress as a small business.