Healthcare Reform: The 1099 Debacle

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October 13, 2010

Deep within the hundreds of pages that make up the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is Section 9006, “Expansion of Information Reporting Requirements.” The provision amends Section 6041 of the Internal Revenue Code, which deals with reporting of income. Businesses are well acquainted with Section 6041 because that’s the section that requires preparing 1099 forms for independent contractors from the company received more than $600 worth of services in the preceding tax year.
The new law makes two signifi cant changes: It amends the term ‘person’ to include corporations, which means that businesses will need to send 1099s to every business, not just sole proprietors. It also inserts the phrase, “amounts in consideration for property,” which means businesses will need to do 1099s for every company with which it spends more than $600 a year. That includes the phone company, the gas station where you fi ll up your work truck and the garage where you bought tires for it, the offi ce supply store where you buy pens and copy paper, all your materials suppliers and subcontractors, and the sub shop that caters your monthly staff meetings.
The new law makes two signifi cant changes: It amends the term ‘person’ to include corporations, which means that businesses will need to send 1099s to every business, not just sole proprietors. It also inserts the phrase, “amounts in consideration for property,” which means businesses will need to do 1099s for every company with which it spends more than $600 a year. That includes the phone company, the gas station where you fi ll up your work truck and the garage where you bought tires for it, the offi ce supply store where you buy pens and copy paper, all your materials suppliers and subcontractors, and the sub shop that caters your monthly staff meetings.
The rationale behind the provision is that countless companies under-report their taxable income, says Jenna Hamilton, assistant vice president for governmental affairs at NAHB. The reporting requirement is designed to make sure the government has the money to pay for health care reform. The unintended consequence is extra tax preparation paperwork for business owners, starting in 2012.
“This is really stupid,” says Eva Rosenberg, a Californiabased Enrolled Agent and author of “Small Business Taxes Made Easy.” “How can you be required to track absolutely every vendor and their ID number? Come January (of each year), you’ll spend two weeks trying to get all these numbers.
Talk about a hardship on everybody. Why should you have to do this? It’s very poorly thought-out.”
It didn’t take long for Congress to fi gure out that it had made a major gaffe with the 1099 reporting provision. U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) Fi led the Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act (H.R.5141) to repeal the provision; the bill had 158 co-sponsors.
“This misguided provision will certainly increase costs on all small businesses and in these hard economic times,” Lungren said in a prepared statement. “We just can’t afford to do that.”
It wound up being added as an amendment to another bill that was voted down in July. Lungren himself voted against it because, he said, the larger bill would have cost jobs and raised taxes on small businesses.
Expect to see a much more concentrated effort in Congress this fall to repeal the 1099 reporting measure, Hamilton says.
“Congress understands what a political stinker this is,” she says. “It’s an example of the inability of Congress to understand how the real world works. People will hold it up and say, ‘This has nothing to do with health care and it screwed small business.’”

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