One of the biggest benefits (besides adjusting income tax brackets and their respective percentages) of the Tax Cut Jobs Act (TCJA) Trumpeted by the Trump administration was the repeal of the “individual mandate penalty”. However, although other provisions of the tax bill took effect in 2018, the individual mandate penalty, which penalized taxpayers that did not carry health insurance for at least 9 months out of the year, will not be eliminated until the 2019 tax year.
Despite strong opposition to the penalty as being extremely unfair to the poorest of taxpayers (80% of those who paid the penalty earned less than $50,000/yr.), the penalty has increased steadily since it’s 2014 debut.
The Individual Mandate Penalty Started Out Small But Has Grown Over Time
• In 2014, the punishment was $95 per uninsured adult ($47.50 per child), up to $285 per family, OR 1 percent of household income. The IRS released statistics that among filers who owed a penalty for the tax year ending 2014, the average penalty was $210.
• In 2015, the penalty would be raised to $325 per uninsured adult ($162.50 per child), up to $975 per family, OR 2 percent of household income. The IRS released statistics that among filers who owed a penalty for the tax year ending 2015, the average penalty rose over 125% year-to-year to $470.
• In 2016, the penalty was again significantly raised to $695 per uninsured adult ($347.50 per child), up to $2,085 per family, or 2.5 percent of household income.
The 2.5 percent of household income penalty has remained constant since 2016, and in 2018 will remain at $695 per uninsured adult ($347.50 per child), up to $2,085 per family, or 2.5 percent of household income.
In closing, it is important to remember that although the individual mandate penalty was eliminated as part of the tax cut legislation passed in December 2017, this penalty assessed by the IRS will still be in effect for the tax year 2018.