Taxpayers are no longer required to indicate on their tax returns whether they are in compliance with Obamacare’s individual mandate.
If that’s coming as a surprise to you, it’s because the IRS didn’t want you to know:
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.”
In other words, the IRS is turning a blind eye toward the individual mandate. But fair warning — the mandate still exists, and taxpayers who do not comply may still be required to pay a fine:
“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,” the agency statement said.