Camp: IRS choosing ObamaCare over taxpayers

With all that in mind, Camp is pressing the IRS over why 81 staffers dealing with ObamaCare were seen as essential, and how many agency employees would have been needed to ensure the filing season opened on time.

“It strains credulity to believe that today, with absolutely no new changes to the tax law – 13 weeks away from the originally scheduled date – the IRS cannot make up 12 work-days,” Camp wrote to the interim head of the IRS, Danny Werfel.

“This determination raises serious questions about how the IRS actually allocated its resources during the shutdown.”

The IRS has said that the shutdown diminished its ability to test the computer programs needed to process some 150 million tax returns. 

In a statement, the IRS said they were reviewing Camp's letter, and that the current situation was much different than past delays that were caused by late changes to the tax code.

"With late tax law changes, the vast majority of core programming and systems work had been completed in the months leading up to the legislation being passed in December or later," the agency said in a statement. "The government shutdown delay in early October coincided with a crucial period for building our new systems for the filing season starting in 2014.”

Congressional Democrats have chalked up the delay as another side effect of a shutdown driven by Republicans.

“Nine in 10 IRS employees were furloughed for 16 days because of the shutdown that Republicans caused over the Affordable Care Act," said Josh Drobnyk, a spokesman for Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.), the top Democrat at Ways and Means. "It’s a particularly sad bit of irony that Republicans are now blaming the Affordable Care Act for the delay in the tax-filing season.”

Camp’s letter comes as House Republicans have pounded the White House over the ObamaCare rollout, after seeing their poll numbers take a dive in the wake of this month’s fiscal impasse.

GOP lawmakers have also long slammed the IRS, and have only sharpened their criticism in the wake of this year’s acknowledgement that the agency targeted Tea Party groups. Republicans have also worked hard to tie that controversy to the IRS’s oversight of the healthcare law.

“It is widely known that ObamaCare implementation is a presidential priority, however, for the IRS to determine that the implementation of this policy should take precedence over the preparation for the annual filing season seems to be contrary to the agency's stated shutdown policy,” Camp wrote to Werfel.

“It appears the IRS chose to ignore its responsibility to be prepared to process nearly 150 million returns and to delay the tax refunds of potentially millions of Americans.”

This post was updated at 6:05 p.m.