Monday, March 3, 2014

Avoid the Paying Penalty: 9 Exemptions From the Affordable Care Act "Requirement To Obtain Minimum Essential Coverage"

What are the statutory exemptions from the requirement to obtain minimum essential coverage?

Here is the list from the IRS:
  1. Religious conscience. You are a member of a religious sect that is recognized as conscientiously opposed to accepting any insurance benefits. The Social Security Administration administers the process for recognizing these sects according to the criteria in the law.
  2. Health care sharing ministry. You are a member of a recognized health care sharing ministry.
  3. Indian tribes. You are (1) a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe or (2) an individual eligible for services through an Indian care provider.
  4. Income below the income tax return filing requirement. Your income is below the minimum threshold for filing a tax return. The requirement to file a federal tax return depends on your filing status, age and types and amounts of income. To find out if you are required to file a federal tax return, use the IRS Interactive Tax Assistant (ITA).
  5. Short coverage gap. You went without coverage for less than three consecutive months during the year. For more information, see question 22.
  6. Hardship. You have suffered a hardship that makes you unable to obtain coverage, as defined in final regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services. See question 21 for more information on claiming hardship exemptions..
  7. Affordability. You can’t afford coverage because the minimum amount you must pay for the premiums is more than eight percent of your household income.
  8. Incarceration. You are in a jail, prison, or similar penal institution or correctional facility after the disposition of charges against you.
  9. Not lawfully present. You are not a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national or an alien lawfully present in the U.S.

What if I do not even live in the United States?

Here is the answer from the IRS:

Are US citizens living abroad subject to the individual shared responsibility provision?Yes. However, U.S. citizens who are not physically present in the United States for at least 330 full days within a 12-month period are treated as having minimum essential coverage for that 12-month period. In addition, U.S. citizens who are bona fide residents of a foreign country (or countries) for an entire taxable year are treated as having minimum essential coverage for that year. In general, these are individuals who qualify for a foreign earned income exclusion under section 911 of the Internal Revenue Code. Individuals may qualify for this rule even if they cannot use the exclusion for all of their foreign earned income because, for example, they are employees of the United States. Individuals that qualify for this rule need take no further action to comply with the individual shared responsibility provision during the months when they qualify. See Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad, for further information on the foreign earned income exclusion.

U.S. citizens who meet neither the physical presence nor residency requirements will need to maintain minimum essential coverage, qualify for an exemption or make a shared responsibility payment for each month of the year. For this purpose, minimum essential coverage includes a group health plan provided by an overseas employer. One exemption that may be particularly relevant to U.S. citizens living abroad for a small part of a year is the exemption for a short coverage gap. This exemption provides that no shared responsibility payment will be due for a once-per-year gap in coverage that lasts less than three months.  

What will I have to do to show I had coverage or qualify for an exemption?  That is a good question and there is no good answer at this time.  Below is the information from the IRS website.

Will I have to do something on my federal income tax return to show that I had coverage or an exemption?The individual shared responsibility provision goes into effect in 2014. You will not have to account for coverage or exemptions or to make any payments until you file your 2014 federal income tax return in 2015. Information will be made available later about how the income tax return will take account of coverage and exemptions. Insurers will be required to provide everyone that they cover each year with information that will help them demonstrate they had coverage beginning with the 2015 tax year.
I hope you found this information useful.  Stay tuned for updates as various aspects of the Affordable Care Act are clarified.  For more questions and answers from the IRS about the Individual Shared Responsibility Provision click here.

This is not technically an income tax issue but it is implemented partially through the IRS and your federal income tax return.  While questions about health care coverage or insurance are not in my field of expertise and will cause my head to explode, I would be happy to address what affect your choices will have on your federal income tax return to the best of my ability at this time.  

If you want the CPA Superhero to help you feel free to contact me using my information below. You can have a free half hour initial consultation for your current income tax situation.  Tax planning for your retirement involves a consultation fee.

Jeff Haywood, CPA
The CPA Superhero

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My posts contain general information that does not fit every situation, they are not all inclusive, and as always for your tax situation everything "depends on facts and circumstances."  In addition, the information/IRS requirements are always subject to change.  So call me to talk about your specific facts and circumstances and what you want to accomplish.