Subject: Individual Tax Returns
Healthcare coverage on your taxes? Now optional!
The health law’s individual mandate requires everyone to either maintain qualifying health coverage or pay a tax penalty, known as a “shared responsibility payment.” The IRS was set to require filers to indicate whether they had maintained coverage in 2016 or paid the penalty by filling out line 61 on their form 1040s. Alternatively, they could claim exemption11 from the mandate by filing a form 8965.
For most filers, filling out line 61 would be mandatory. The IRS would not accept 1040s unless the coverage box was checked, or the shared responsibility payment noted, or the exemption form included. Otherwise, they would be labeled “silent returns” and rejected. Now, filling out that line will be optional!
– Lisa Allen, VP Regulatory Affairs
The IRS is currently reviewing the Jan. 20, 2017, executive order to determine the implications. Taxpayers should continue to file their tax returns as they normally would.
The individual shared responsibility provision requires you and each member of your family to do at least one of the following:
- Have qualifying health coverage called minimum essential coverage
- Qualify for a health coverage exemption
- Make a shared responsibility payment with your federal income tax return for the months that you did not have coverage or an exemption.
Most taxpayers have qualifying health care coverage for all 12 months in the year, and will check the “Full-year coverage” box on their return.
This year, the IRS put in place system changes that would reject tax returns during processing in instances where the taxpayer didn’t provide information related to health coverage.
However, the Jan. 20, 2017, executive order directed federal agencies to exercise authority and discretion available to them to reduce potential burden. Consistent with that, the IRS has decided to make changes that would continue to allow electronic and paper returns to be accepted for processing in instances where a taxpayer doesn’t indicate their coverage status.
However, legislative provisions of the ACA law are still in force until changed by the Congress, and taxpayers remain required to follow the law and pay what they may owe.
Processing silent returns means that taxpayer returns are not systemically rejected by the IRS at the time of filing, allowing the returns to be processed and minimizing burden on taxpayers, including those expecting a refund. When the IRS has questions about a tax return, taxpayers may receive follow-up questions and correspondence at a future date, after the filing process is completed. This is similar to how we handled this in previous years, and this reflects the normal IRS post-filing compliance procedures that we follow.
If you should have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to your Senior Benefits Consultant or myself directly at 1-800-836-0026 x230 or 585-415-0448 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.