As many as 6 million Americans will get a big shock when they file their taxes and find out they’re on the hook for a tax penalty thanks to President Obama’s signature healthcare reform. Over half of all taxpaying adults don’t even know about the mandate and most don’t think they will be slapped with that penalty.
ObamaCare mandates that every man, woman, boy, and girl demonstrate they have healthcare coverage or face a penalty (called the “shared responsibility payment”). This year it is $95 per person or 1 percent of an individual’s annual income. That triples to $395 per person (or 2 percent of income) next year and continues to climb each year.
As we reported, as many as 4 percent of all taxpayers, 6 million people, will pay the tax penalty this year because they didn’t carry coverage and did not qualify for any exemptions. Another 15 to 30 million people (10 to 20 percent of taxpayers) get a pass excusing them from the tax because they qualified for an exemption.
However, perhaps bigger news is how many people don’t even know they may have to pay this tax penalty. A recent report from nonpartisan Urban Institute finds that roughly one quarter of uninsured people who live above the poverty line had no clue about the ObamaCare penalty and another 20 percent had heard only a little about it. Slightly more than half (53 percent) had heard some or a lot about the penalty.
According to the report, there’s a disconnect. Most uninsured adults (who are above the poverty line) do not think they will have to the penalty or do not know they will be subject to it. One-quarter of uninsured adults with incomes above 100 percent of FPL expected to pay the penalty, while 40 percent did not know, and more than a quarter did not expect to pay the penalty. Yet, many uninsured adults in this income range will likely have to pay the fine. There’s also a general lack of knowledge about ObamaCare and the federal and state exchanges.
This tax filing season will be the biggest teachable moment as taxpayers see first-hand their tax returns eaten up by the penalty. For many, that is valuable discretionary income that won’t be put into vacations, dinner out, down payments for new homes, or new furniture or perhaps clothe shopping sprees – all of which stimulate the economy.
The Administration has no answer for that other than to create a special enrollment period for ObamaCare for those who learn about the penalty while filing their taxes.
The Hill reports:
Almost half of uninsured adults are unaware that there is a financial penalty for lacking health insurance, according to a study released Thursday by the Urban Institute.
The low awareness is at the center of a growing push to get the Obama administration to give people another chance to get insurance through ObamaCare before the penalties take effect.
The administration is considering adding another enrollment period for people who realize as Tax Day approaches that they have to pay a penalty for not having insurance. The deadline for open enrollment this year was Feb. 15.
“Millions upon millions of people are unaware about these penalties,” Ron Pollack, the executive director of the nonprofit group Families USA, which is pushing for the new period, said on Wednesday.
A federal extension of open enrollment isn’t the only extension. Several states including Washington, Minnesota, and Vermont have announced that they are offering residents more time to sign up for ObamaCare through the state exchanges. In part, those decisions had to do with website glitches that sprang up during the final weekend of open enrollment.
What no one is talking is that Americans are being forced to sign up for coverage to avoid a penalty. ObamaCare’s individual mandate is one of the most pernicious aspects of the President’s so-called healthcare reform plan. The architects of ObamaCare knew enough Americans wouldn’t voluntarily sign up for coverage. Significant enrollment would take an individual mandate for everyone.
Contrary, to what progressives and the Administration claim, just because Americans sign up for ObamaCare under force of threat isn’t an indicator of success or a desirable policy but compliance under duress. That taxpayers have to then pay Americans to buy into ObamaCare through the subsidies is evidence that ObamaCare is not even affordable. Where then is the real reform of healthcare system?