The Trump administration may no longer enforce the Individual mandate so the IRS may process your tax return without ACA forms required last year.
IMPORTANT UPDATE 2019: The IRS accepted silent returns in 2017 (for 2016 plans), but was more stringent in 2018 (for 2017 plans) saying they would not accept electronically filed forms that did not address the health coverage requirement (see the official statement from the IRS here). It is likely they will still be stringent in 2019 (for 2018 plans). Then for 2019 plans there is no federal fee for not having coverage, and thus this whole thing will be a moot point. For the 2019 tax filing season for 2018 plans however, you should be aware that the IRS may reject “silent returns.”
Trump’s recent order led us to expect this, and now the IRS has confirmed, “Going Silent on line 61 is an Option, Just don’t Attest to Coverage You Didn’t Have.”
This means that if you didn’t get covered you can still process a return without checking line 61 (the line where you attest to coverage). That does not however mean that the IRS won’t still charge you the fee down the road.
If that seems like a mixed message, it sort of is. Trump directed the IRS not to enforce the fee, but it is law and only Congress can change it. Unless Congress officially changes the mandate, “going silent is an option, but you may still end up owing the fee for not having coverage.”
To be very clear:
Trump’s order allows you to file a “silent return,” and the IRS has said they won’t reject it. TIP: This “silent option” only makes sense if you didn’t have coverage and would owe the fee. If you had coverage, got cost assistance, or qualified for an exemption, then you should follow the directions for line 61 and file the 8962 and 8965 forms respectively.
Not having a mandate is great for individuals and families who don’t want to get covered, but it isn’t good for our budget as the IRS needs to take in payments to pay back T-bonds.
What isn’t great for families under the recent changes is HHS now requires extra documentation for Special Enrollment period eligibility and open enrollment windows are shorter. That means those who do want coverage will see new hurdles.
The latest proposed rules from Tom Price’s HHS team suggest there will be a 2018 open enrollment. The new rules also suggest the game plan until we get a replace or repair plan. Tightening rules for special enrollment, reducing the coverage required from insurers, and the eliminating the oversight that would make sure that insurers have adequate providers in the region in which they sell insurance.
This cluster of good news and bad news has been called, politely, “a mixed bag.”
With luck, a repair or reform involves an”actual-fix,” as some elements of past bills have suggested. Of course, we could see the old GOP plan from 2008 being passed after the GOP ensured that a death spiral made Democrats look bad. Skeptics on the political left are concerned that the GOP will remove the provisions of the ACA that make it financially feasible, limit coverage and enrollment, and make the ACA so unworkable that even the outdated GOP plans will look better.
UPDATE: Since this article was written a repeal and replace plan passed the House, see an update on what is changing under TrumpCare here.