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Health care reform leads to more questions than answers — Sparks

Health care reform leads to more questions than answers — Sparks
Staff Reporter
A program to explain the tax implications of health care reform began with question marks and ended with local accountant Art Sparks declaring, “Who knows what 2013 will bring?”
Based on his opinions, to say federal tax reform is a complicated and confusing issue would be a serious understatement.
Sparks was the keynote speaker for Tuesday morning’s Business Matters program at the Obion County Public Library. The monthly program was hosted by the Obion County Chamber of Commerce and was attended by more than 40 local business leaders.
The near-hour-long session was dominated by an overwhelming sense of confusion and uncertainty as Sparks attempted to unravel the new federal tax code.
Sparks opened his PowerPoint presentation with a slide he described as key to his explanation of the tax code. The slide contained four giant blue question marks.
He said in the 35 to 40 years he has been in the accounting field, the last two months he has “spent more time saying, ‘We don’t know.’”
What Sparks did explain to his audience is “pursuant to PPACA (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010), the IRS is responsible for overseeing a significant part of health care reform.”
In order to achieve that goal, Sparks said the IRS is planning to hire more than 17,000 new agents.
He is a member of the Union City accounting firm Alexander Thompson Arnold, which sponsored Tuesday’s Business Matters program.
One of Sparks’ slides stated the primary thrust of the PPACA and the HCERA is health care reform; however, tax law change is a major component. He explained tax breaks and penalties are being used to implement federal tax mandates.
New laws requiring health insurance coverage for all Americans are having a major impact on small and large businesses. The federal government is utilizing penalty taxes, excise taxes and tax credits as tools to force employers to provide health insurance coverage for employees.
Then there is the issue of health care reporting.
“This is going to be fun for employers also,” Sparks said sarcastically. “Compliance, including new elevated reporting requirements, just increased in level of importance.”
Throughout his presentation, Sparks used his sarcastic sense of humor and statements such as “clueless,” “I’m not sure” and “I don’t know” to describe the issue of the tax implications of health care reform.
Sparks’ presentation was both enlightening and confusing went it came to trying to explain the federal government’s attempt at health care reform. What was clear is there are numerous elements of the tax code that are still unclear.
One of the final slides in his presentation contained the statement, “1913 wasn’t a very good year. 1913 gave us the income tax, the 16th Amendment and the IRS.”
As he wound up his 45-minute presentation, Sparks fielded several specific questions from his audience. In one response to a question, Sparks stated, “We’re plowing new ground.”
In another comment, he stated, “The last couple of months have been as hard on us as it ever has been.”
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at
Published in The Messenger 1.16.13

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