What happens if you don’t buy health insurance and don’t pay the tax (penalty) for not having health insurance? In an earlier post, I quoted Erza Klein’s reading of the Affordable Care Act that you could NOT buy insurance and suffer no consequences if you failed to pay the penalties for being uninsured other than having the penalty deducted from your tax refund. As a result of the court ruling today, that does not appear to be the case.
On page 44, footnote 11 of the court’s ruling in the Obamacare case the court says:
—————— 11Of course, individuals do not have a lawful choice not to pay a tax due, and may sometimes face prosecution for failing to do so (although not for declining to make the shared responsibility payment, see 26 U. S. C. §5000A(g)(2)). But that does not show that the tax restricts the lawful choice whether to undertake or forgo the activity on which the tax is predicated. Those subject to the individual mandate may lawfully forgo health insurance and pay higher taxes, or buy health insurance and pay lower taxes. The only thing they may not lawfully do is not buy health insurance and not pay the resulting tax.
In other words, if you choose to NOT buy health insurance, you cannot just ignore the penalty. If you do, the IRS can come after you just as they could if you failed to pay any tax due. The only thing the IRS can’t do is prosecute you as a tax cheat.