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ACA – The law that really wasn’t

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 really hasn’t had any significant impact on individuals and small businesses despite the volumes of  information, rhetoric and threats of penalties for non-compliance. Today the Obama administration extended the individual health insurance enrollment deadline (again) regarding the individual mandate. Last week they postponed the effective deadline for small business compliance under Internal Revenue Code section 4890. These extensions follow a long string of previous extensions or repeals on almost every part of the ACA where direct taxpayer compliance is required. It’s not surprising, then, that fewer people take the law seriously anymore.

I’m not suggesting that the lack of enforcement is a bad thing. But what I am concerned about it that business owners and their advisers no longer give credibility to the federal government or the intent of ACA.

In my own practice, I just don’t know what advice I should provide. Should I tell clients “this is what the law says but they’ve not enforced it so far and you are likely one of almost a million small businesses who are not in compliance”? Privately some CPAs have told me – and some have even written in public forums – that they don’t even bother to warn clients of the impact of ACA due to this underlying lack of credibility.

I conclude that a law that changes week by week really is not a law.

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