“If the data is wrong, thanks to the horribly poor implementation of the Affordable Care Act, hundreds of thousands of Americans could be hit with a nasty surprise when they do their taxes next year, and could be forced to pay back hundreds or even thousands of dollars,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R- Texas), chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, said at a hearing Wednesday.
People may not find out they owe money until they attempt to file their taxes, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said during the hearing. In addition to problems arising from the system's technical failures, some taxpayers may owe money if they fail to report income fluctuations.
To mitigate this second scenario, Koskinen and Deputy CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt encouraged anyone who experienced income fluctuations this year to return to HealthCare.gov and report the changes.
Crunched with limited manpower, the IRS is relying mostly on an aggressive social media campaign, including a series of tweets, Tumblr posts and YouTube videos, to raise awareness about the importance of reporting income fluctuations and educate taxpayers tax filers who received a credit about the steps they will need to follow when submitting their returns.
When asked by lawmakers how effective this strategy might be, Koskinen expressed uncertainty, adding that he's not a big user of social media channels.
“When this hits, I don't think it's going to be enough to say I'm not a user of Twitter,” said Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.). “Putting something on a website may not be enough. We need to figure out a way to better educate folks.”
Follow Virgil Dickson on Twitter: @MHvdickson