By Bob Cox
December 23, 2013
Some opinions, comments and links relating to what is happening in this great nation and, in particular, in Western Colorado.
First and foremost, each and every one of you has a very merry Christmas and may the New Year be a bright one.
Today marks that day when so many Americans were supposed to be all signed up for the Affordable Health Care act. What it really is turning out to be is the day when many of those Americans are realizing that they have been lied to, led astray by their so-called representatives and made to feel like they have been taken advantage of.
Each time I hear a new twist to the faults of the Obama Care, I make an attempt to understand. Frankly, I usually get only more confused. This whole debacle lacks any logic whatsoever.
The latest is that there is a possibility that volunteer firefighters might be considered employees for the purposes of determining the number of employees within a business or organization. That is that magic “50 or more” we have heard so much about. I am a big fan of volunteer fire departments and I truly believe we have some of the best there are in our area. I have had the opportunity to personally get to know many of the members. I make no secret of the fact that the Delta, Hotchkiss and Paonia firefighters are, in my opinion some of the best in the state. I will never forget the passion and dedication of people like Doug Fritz, Who takes his role as a volunteer firefighter as seriously as he does his business.
Under the law, Hotchkiss, Paonia and Delta will not be among those with more than 50 employees, leading some to wonder why I bring them up at all. I will get to that. Meanwhile, keep in mind that, as of the last information I have available, Montrose Fire District has a total of 52 members. Fifteen of those are either reserves or volunteers. This could well have an impact on that district.
What bothers me most is that the IRS is in charge of these determinations. They are the real regulating agency behind the AHCA. There is no doubt in my mind that we have not heard the last of this. If you thing otherwise, simply use your favorite search engine and look for the IRS regulation 4980H. A very small, and I do mean very small part of that regulation reads:
(4) Full-time employee
(A) In general
The term “full-time employee” means, with respect to any month, an employee who is employed on average at least 30 hours of service per week.
(B) Hours of service
The Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Labor, shall prescribe such regulations, rules, and guidance as may be necessary to determine the hours of service of an employee, including rules for the application of this paragraph to employees who are not compensated on an hourly basis.
Don’t be fooled. It will not be long, in fact it is already being discussed that even things like shirts and training trips might be considered “income” when given to these volunteers. The number of volunteers might not even be considered when it comes to a new income stream for the regulators to tuck into their the thousands of pages of new regulations expected over the next year. How are you going to feel when those shirts worn by the Hotchkiss Fire Department while they serve a pancake breakfast to raise funds to buy their own equipment is taxed as income?
If any man or woman even hinted that they supported the Affordable Health Care Act and they are now sitting in a position of power in Washington, D.C., they should be removed from that position at the earliest possible time. For many that means 2014. It is now our turn to turn things around.
See you next year.
P.S. My first session of year with Jim Kerschner on KUBC AM 580 will be on January 11. Tune in and let us know what you are thinking.
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