The Mandate is in Effect to 2019 Despite Claims that ObamaCare was Repealed
Anyone taking Trump and the GOP literally on their claim that ObamaCare is repealed could be in for a shock. ObamaCare’s mandate and fee are repealed by the 2017 Tax Act, but not until 2019. In other words, the individual mandate where you have to get coverage or pay a fee is in full effect until 2019.
This applies to the employer mandate as well. It is repealed, but starting in 2019 (or after December 31, 2018 more specifically).
This means everyone going without coverage in 2017 – 2018, perhaps due to being under the impression that “ObamaCare was repealed,” will technically owe a fee to the IRS for not having coverage (depending on their income and exemption status). Likewise, businesses who don’t cover employees, but would have had to, will still owe the fee.
However, individuals can potentially get around this, by staying silent on line 61 (line 61 is the part of your tax returns where you have to say whether you had coverage or not).
Staying silent means glazing over that line and not reacting to it. You don’t lie or admit you owe the fee, you just do nothing.
How many people will admit to not having coverage and pay the fee? How many will lie on the tax returns (a federal crime)? It is hard to say. I’d like to think the number is going to be zero, but I’m pretty sure we are going to get a lot of Trump supporters and GOP faithfuls who took the party at their word without reading the fine print and skipped getting covered this year.
Unfortunately what we have here is a problem of party politics vs. the law how it is written and the facts.
The GOP and Trump proudly announced that ObamaCare was repealed, but didn’t offer details such as: it wasn’t actually repealed in any meaningful way and the mandate specifically is still in effect until 2019.
That is worth keeping in mind. The worst part of this is that the time for action has passed. Those without coverage are now locked into not having coverage until 2019 since we are outside of open enrollment. Unfortunately the tax act passed right after open enrollment, so anyone expecting a repeal and taking a chance on the repeal… are out of luck.
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.”
- 2019 Repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s Individual Mandate Penalties. HollandHart.com.