Smith County Must Pay $35,000 for Not Complying with Obamacare, Audit Says

The federal government assessed the Smith County School System more than $35,000 for not complying with Obamacare, according to a state audit released this week.

Smith County taxpayers, of course, will have to pick up the slack and pay that fine.

The audit, however, did not offer specifics.

“During the year, the School Department paid a penalty of $37,180 to the Internal Revenue Service for failure to comply with the Affordable Care Act for 2015,” according to Tennessee Comptrollers.

“The School Department provides health insurance coverage to its employees; however, this coverage was not in compliance with federal regulations for certain employees. This deficiency resulted from a lack of management oversight.”

Smith County Mayor Jeff Mason, in an email, deferred all The Tennessee Star’s questions to Director of Schools Barry Smith.

Smith, on the phone, however, deferred all questions to the school system’s Chief Financial Officer Norma Mitchell. Mitchell did not return two requests seeking comment.

Other county governments in Tennessee have had their finances suffer due to Obamacare.

As The Tennessee Watchdog reported in 2015, an audit from Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson said Obamacare might have forced Robertson County officials to choose between raising taxes and breaking the law.

Last year, county commissioners transferred $632,500 from the General Debt Service Fund to the General Purpose School Fund to comply with Obamacare, according to Wilson’s audit. County officials needed the money to pay for health insurance for part-time employees working 30 hours a week or more, such as bus drivers and substitute teachers.

The General Debt Service Fund exists to pay county debt, while money from the General Purpose School Fund pays to keep the schools running.

Comptrollers said the transfer was illegal, based on existing case law and existing opinions from the state attorney general.

According to the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office, if a taxpayer pays taxes for a specific purpose then any other use of that money is against the law.

As The Tennessee Watchdog reported in 2013, White County officials had to raise taxes by an additional $1 million per year so county employees would have health insurance.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Smith County Board of Education” by Smith County Board of Education. 







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