Democrats dispute the Republicans' IRS expansion estimates

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in an e-mail "fact check" that the "IRS will be working hard to pay out the largest tax cut for health care in history" that Hoyer says would help 40 million middle-class families and 4 million small businesses. "In order to ensure that those who are eligible are aware of these new tax incentives and are able to claim them, the IRS will promote these taxpayer services." 

Hoyer was responding to recent claims made by House Republicans that the IRS will need to hire up to 18,000 new employees to oversee the new health care legislation.

A report released by Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee concludes: "If $1.5 billion in annual funds are used for the payroll and benefits of a similar mix of employees, the IRS could add more than $16,500 additional agents, auditors, examiners and administrative support personnel to enforce large portions of the nation's health insurance system." For the full report click here. 

Republicans based their estimates for how many employees might be hired on a report released by the Congressional Budget Office that said the IRS may need between $5 billion and $10 billion to implement its portion of the legislation. The health care package doesn't designate any appropriations or recommend agency staff levels. 

The CBO hasn't estimated how that money would be spent. In its more recent report on March 20, CBO specifies that it hasn't completed an estimate on the potential effects of the legislation on discretionary spending. "Discretionary costs would arise from the effects of the legislation on several federal agencies and on a number of new and existing programs subject to future appropriation," according to the report. Specifics on those early estimates are located the end of page 10 and continue on page 11 under "Effects of the Legislation on Discretionary Costs."

In addition to up to $10 billion for the IRS, CBO expects that "costs to the Department of Health and Human Services (especially the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) and the Office of Personnel Management of implementing changes in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, as well as certain reforms to the private insurance market, would probably be at least $5 billion to $10 billion over 10 years."