8.1 Million Taxpayers Paid $1.7 Billion in Obamacare Penalties

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Nearly 8.1 million taxpayers paid $1,694,088,000 in Obamacare penalties for not having health insurance in 2014, the first year the penalty was in effect, according to the most recent datafrom the Internal Revenue Service.

“Beginning in 2014, the Affordable Care Act required that individuals must have had health care coverage, qualified for a health coverage exemption, or made a shared responsibility payment with a tax return,” the IRS said. “A health care individual responsibility payment was made on 8.1 million returns for $1.7 billion, an average of $210 per tax return paying this penalty.”

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told lawmakers in 2015 that preliminary data from the IRS found that approximately 7.5 million taxpayers paid a total of $1.5 billion in penalties. This means about 560,000 more taxpayers paid about $200 million more in penalties than was previously reported.

In 2014, individuals were required to pay either a flat penalty of $95 for each uninsured adult or one percent of their household’s adjusted gross income in excess of the threshold for mandatory tax filing, whichever is greater. In 2016, those penalties rose to a flat fee of $695 or 2.5 percent of the AGI measure.

Around four million individuals are estimated to pay $4 billion in penalties this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The budget office projects that $5 billion will be collected each year from 2017 to 2024.

“It’s not surprising that the Obamacare mandate numbers are worse than the administration first claimed,” said Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.). “Obamacare penalizes taxpayers who can no longer afford insurance that Obamacare made unaffordable.”

“As Obamacare continues to unravel, things will only get worse,” Cotton said. “The legacy of Obamacare is skyrocketing premiums, unaffordable deductibles, the destruction of the individual insurance market, and tax penalties on Obamacare’s victims.”

Cotton introduced the Obamacare Tax Relief and Consumer Choice Act with five other senators in July to suspend the individual mandate when health insurance premiums rise.

Under the act, individuals would not have to pay the penalty if health insurance premiums in their state rose by 10 percent or more or if they could not afford deductibles under Obamacare’s current definition of affordability.