6.5 Million Taxpayers Paid $3 Billion in Obamacare Penalties in 2016

Penalties paid to the IRS nearly doubled since 2014

The IRS headquarters / Getty Images

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Approximately 6.5 million taxpayers paid $3 billion in Obamacare penalties for not having health insurance in 2016, according to preliminary data from the Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen.

Beginning in 2014, the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate required that Americans purchase health care coverage or pay a penalty to the Internal Revenue Service.

While the number of taxpayers paying the penalty has declined since 2014, the total amount in penalties paid to the IRS has increased since then.

In 2014, individuals without insurance had to pay the greater penalty of 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. In 2016, those penalties increased to a flat fee of $695 or 2.5 percent of the adjusted gross income.

In 2014, Koskinen’s preliminary data showed that there were 7.5 million taxpayers who paid a total of $1.5 billion in Obamacare penalties. Final data from the IRS, however, showed those numbers increase to 8.1 million taxpayers paying a total of $1.7 billion in Obamacare penalties.

Koskinen’s preliminary data from 2016 shows that there were 6.5 million taxpayers paying a total of $3 billion in Obamacare penalties, which is nearly double what the IRS collected in 2014. As in 2014, final IRS data may show an increase in these numbers when it is released.

In 2016, the IRS reports that the average penalty paid was around $470 and that about 70 percent of payments were $500 or less, while only 7 percent of payments were $100 or less. There were 117 million tax returns of individuals who had qualifying health care coverage all year and 12.7 million taxpayers claimed an exemption to get out of paying the mandate. According to the IRS, the most common exemption occurs when a household’s income is less than the tax-filing threshold.

This year, the IRS is easing requirements for Obamacare's individual mandate, after President Donald Trump signed an executive order requiring that federal agencies reduce the burden of Obamacare. Now, the IRS will not require taxpayers to indicate whether or not they have health insurance.

The Internal Revenue Service did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Ali Meyer

Ali Meyer   Email Ali | Full Bio | RSS
Ali Meyer is a staff writer with the Washington Free Beacon covering economic issues that expose government waste, fraud, and abuse. Prior to the Free Beacon, she was a multimedia reporter with CNSNews.com where her work appeared on outlets such as Drudge Report and Fox News. She also interned with the Heritage Foundation and Pacific Research Institute. Her Twitter handle is @DJAliMeyer, and her email address is meyer@freebeacon.com.

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