by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Four million Americans paid $2.8 billion in Obamacare penalties for not having health insurance on target year 2016 returns through April 27, 2017, according to data from the Taxpayer Advocate Service, a division of the Internal Revenue Service.
Beginning in 2014, the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate required Americans to purchase health care coverage or pay a penalty to the IRS.
At that time, individuals without insurance had to pay either a flat fee of $95 or 1 percent of the household’s adjusted gross income in excess of the threshold for mandatory tax filing, whichever was greater. In 2016, those numbers increased to a flat fee of $695 or 2.5 percent of the gross income.
The report finds that this number increased again, as the 4 million individuals paid an average penalty of $708.
On President Donald Trump’s first day in office, he signed an executive order to minimize the economic burden of the Affordable Care Act, which meant the IRS could waive the individual mandate penalty.
“The order stated that the agencies should exercise all authority and discretion to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any requirement of the Act that would impose burden,” the taxpayer advocate explains.