Obamacare Tax Compliance May Be An Issue For the Poorest

This year is the first year for which proof of health insurance, or payment of the “shared responsibility” tax/fee/penalty, is required to be accounted for on one’s tax return. But what happens when a person does not meet the income threshold to actually have to file their taxes?

The Weekly Standard points out that a conundrum exists for the poor. Under Obamacare rules, the economically disadvantaged,

“can get an income-based exemption if ‘you don’t have to file a tax return because your income is below the level that requires you to file.’ Sounds simple enough, right? Until further investigation reveals that this exemption is claimed directly on the tax return. That’s right – the tax return you’re not required to file.”

So the fate of those who are uninsured and also do not file? If they do not claim their exemption, they will be on the hook for the “shared responsibility” payment and “are likely to get hit with an unexpected tax bill later on.” That is sloppy at best and egregious at worst.

Obamacare purports to help those who, economically, are the least among us. The law provides financial help to purchase healthcare for the poor, or a path of exemption for those who cannot afford healthcare or the uninsured penalty. Yet it fails to provide a mechanism of compliance for those who among us who are too poor to pay taxes and the penalty. In this regard, Obamacare falls short of its most basic goals — and will wreak tax havoc in the future for those poorest ensnared by this deficiency.