John Koskinen

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen had his last day last Thursday, but before he left he bestowed one final ‘screw you’ gift to the business community and was able to do so because of ObamaCare, reports Fox Business.

This year, the IRS will strictly enforce the ObamaCare employer mandate for the first time since its inception, the agency confirmed to The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.  This enforcement allows penalties to be handed out to companies with 50 or more employees that have failed to provide affordable insurance to full-time employees and dependents.

The letters date back all the way to 2015, which means companies could be on the hook for years’ worth of financial consequences.

The IRS was actually supposed to enforce this mandate in 2014 but instead issued the guidance last week.  This move also comes after Republicans have been working for months to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and the highly unpopular employer requirement that comes along with it.

“The impact on U.S. businesses could be particularly harsh,” reports Fox Business. “According to a study from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office Opens a New Window.(CBO) conducted in 2014, penalty payments by employers were projected to total $139 billion over the 2015–2024 period.”

However, not all businesses are that concerned about the enforcement.  Small Business Majority founder and CEO John Arensmeyer told FOX Business that a vast majority of small businesses won’t be affected by the IRS’s decision to enforce the provision.

“Ninety-six percent of small businesses have fewer than 50 employees, and firms with fewer than 50 employees are … not required to offer health insurance under the Affordable Care Act anyway,” he said. “What’s more, 96% of firms with 50 or more employees already offered health insurance to their employees before the ACA existed.”

David Kautter has replaced Koskinen as interim IRS chief, which President Trump named last month.  Kautter was acting as the assistant secretary for tax policy at the U.S. Treasury Department. Before he joined the administrations, Kautter worked for RSM, a leading provider of audit, tax and consulting services as the leader of the firm’s Washington National Tax group.

Kautter served as the managing director of American University’s Kogod Tax Center.  He held multiple positions at professional services and accounting firm Ernst & Young, most recently as the chief operating executive for the firm’s national tax practices.

Koskinen was nominated to be the IRS commissioner by then-President Barack Obama in 2013.  In a press briefing with reporters on Tuesday, Koskinen criticized lawmakers for threatening to reduce the agency’s funding.

“’I’m hopeful that in the future the IRS and Congress can have a more rational and reasonable discussion of the resources the agency needs to meet its very critical responsibilities,’ he said.”

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BY Isabelle Weeks

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I am a staff writer for DC Statesman and like to report on current events happening in the Trump administration as well as the political world.