I did not have healthcare coverage in 2014. If I check the box on my return that says I did not have coverage I have to pay the fee. However, from the verbiage below it appears that not paying the fee is not a criminal offense. Should I simply choose not to pay the fee?

The following is copied verbatim from the healthcare.gov link cited below.

What happens if I don't pay the fee?

"The IRS will hold back the amount of the fee from any future tax refunds. There are no liens, levies, or criminal penalties for failing to pay the fee."


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    The reason the IRS cannot come after you for that fee is the divided Congress. That may change any election cycle. In any case, they will reduce any refunds, and the underpayment will continue accruing interest until it is paid (or the law changes to allow the IRS to collect on it). – littleadv Apr 6 '15 at 1:56
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    Note that you must check the box! Not paying the fee is not a crime but lying on your taxes is. – WetlabStudent Apr 6 '15 at 20:50
  • There is no box on the tax return that says you "did not" have coverage. There is a box that says you DID have coverage for the whole year. – user102008 Apr 6 '15 at 23:21

If you are due a refund it will be reduced. That means that you must always underpay your taxes. But don't underpay by too much or you will face penalties that they can force you to pay.

There is no guarantee that congress won't modify the law so that there are penalties. They could say not paying this fee means you can't get a government job. They could direct the payment to come from your social security check.

Of course any interest and penalties tacked onto the failure to pay the fee could get very expensive.

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  • The linked site doesn't mention anything about interest or penalties - are there actually any? – GS - Apologise to Monica Apr 6 '15 at 19:15

There are a lot of exemptions. You might not have to pay the penalty at all if you qualify. There's a list online:


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You don't get to choose. They will deduct the fee from your refund. If you are not owed a refund this year, they will try to deduct it from next year's and so on. The checkbox is asking you if you had insurance, not if you want to pay the fee; so, you have to check it regardless.

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