Compliance with ObamaCare Estimated to Take 127.6 Million Hours

February 8, 2013

The Ways and Means, Education and the Workforce, and Energy and Commerce Committees just unveiled what they call the ObamaCare Burden Tracker: “The Burden Tracker is a real-time online resource to help the public keep track of all of the new government mandates, rules, and red tape as a result of Obamacare.”

It totals up all of the various government agencies’ estimates of the paper work time burden created by regulations contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The total cost of compliance being 127.6 million hours. The Ways and Means points out that the Empire State Building could be built 18 times using the hours wasted on ACA regulation. The point being that, besides the direct costs of paying for the regulations, the economy must give up more productive activities in order to comply with the regulations.

The ACA’s new regulations are a good reminder of what the true costs of government complexity are. As the government gets larger and larger, it becomes more and more complex. People will spend more time complying with regulations rather than pursuing productive activities.

One hopes that Dave Camp and the Ways and Means Committee uses the same logic when dealing with tax reform. They should take a close look at taxes such as the estate tax, which raises little revenue, but creates high compliance costs.

It’s not just individual taxes either. The Tax Foundation found in 2005 that our federal tax system costs 265.1 billion dollars, or 6 billion hours due to its complexity. The Taxpayer Advocate Service finds that the federal tax code is so complex that now 59 percent of individual taxpayers pay professionals to prepare their tax returns for them.

As complex as the ACA’s regulations are, the federal tax system is the biggest offender in costing people time and money. Endless deductions, credits, exclusions and exceptions waste peoples’ time and diverts a huge amount of resources towards solving the federal tax puzzle. Dealing with this problem should be an integral part of tax reform.

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A tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities.