President Trump’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” started out with him issuing an executive order “instructing agencies to provide relief from the health law.”
This order was designed to provide financial relief to taxpayers, which would allow them not to specify on their tax returns whether they have healthcare insurance or not. This would help them avoid paying the penalty known as the “shared responsibility payment.”
After Trump issued his executive order, the Internal Revenue Service has thus relaxed it’s mandate towards enforcing the requirement on tax filings.
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 exemption 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.
Instead, however, filling out that line will be optional.
While the IRS maintains it’s option to “follow up” with tax return filers who don’t indicate whether their covered or not, the criteria for determining who would receive a follow up hasn’t been made clear.
As Reason explains:
Earlier this month, the IRS quietly altered its rules to allow the submission of 1040s with nothing on line 61. The IRS says it still maintains the option to follow up with those who elect not to indicate their coverage status, although it’s not clear what circumstances might trigger a follow up.
But what would have been a mandatory disclosure will instead be voluntary. Silent returns will no longer be automatically rejected. The change is a direct result of the executive order President Donald Trump issued in January directing the government to provide relief from Obamacare to individuals and insurers, within the boundaries of the law.
“The recent executive order directed federal agencies to exercise authority and discretion available to them to reduce potential burden,” the IRS said in a statement to Reason. “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.”
The tax agency says the change will reduce the health law’s strain on taxpayers. “Processing silent returns means that taxpayer returns are not systemically rejected, allowing them to be processed and minimizing burden on taxpayers, including those expecting a refund,” the IRS statement said.
With the costs of healthcare climbing, taxpayers definitely don’t need to be burdened with the added problem of paying penalties on top of not being able to afford health insurance.
Trump’s executive order is a good first step to repealing what was already a really bad idea: having the federal government administrating health care insurance. Of course, we all know that any insurance is something that should be left up to private individuals to make their own choices without government interference.
We don’t need more government in our lives, we need less of it!