While having health insurance can feel like a financial burden, not having health insurance will also take its toll on your bank account. If you are not covered, you may be fined when you file your taxes for the year you didn't have coverage.
While current federal law has repealed the individual mandate, certain states have chose to enforce their own penalty on state taxes.
Particularly, California has reinstated the individual mandate requiring Californians to have health coverage throughout the year. Those who don't maintain qualifying health coverage may face a penalty unless they qualify for a hardship exemption. The penalty is $695 or more for taxpayers and half that for dependent children, which would be paid on their state income tax return for the 2020 tax year in 2021.
California is not alone in reinstating the individual mandate. For state tax purposes these states have also chosen to enforce a penalty for not having qualifying health insurance.
- State Taxes: These 5 states and the District of Columbia have kept the individual mandate and have reinstated penalties similar to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This fee is paid when you file your state taxes.
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
- Federal Taxes: Starting with the 2019 plan year (for which you'll file for April 2020), the federal fee does not apply. There is no longer a federal mandate to purchase insurance.
Note: If you haven't filed your taxes for 2018 or earlier (the 2019 filing season), the federal penalty still applies!
- 2018 or earlier penalty: 2.5% of total annual income or $695, whichever is higher.
The fines are pro-rated, meaning that if you are uninsured for just part of the year, you will have to pay 1/12th of the penalty for each month you are uninsured.
There is also a grace period: If you are uninsured for less than two consecutive months of any year, you won’t have to pay a fine and may qualify for an exemption.
It is very important to note that paying the penalty does not mean you have health insurance coverage. You will still be responsible for 100% of the costs of your medical care.
If you are not enrolled in a traditional health insurance plan, but would like to get some type of coverage, you may explore short term insurance plans. Learn more here.
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