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My father filed his 1040 and neglected to check the box on line 61 (full year health coverage). He filed via mail/paper.

I can't find a definitive answer on what he should do in this specific case. It seems that he would file a correction if he "didn't claim the correct filing status or you need to change your income, deductions, or credits."

https://www.irs.gov/help-resources/tools-faqs/faqs-for-individuals/frequently-asked-tax-questions-answers/irs-procedures/amended-returns-form-1040x/amended-returns-form-1040x

I've read other sites that say if he neglected to include a form, he should simply wait for the IRS to contact him about this missing form. However, I can't find anything on what to do if you simply neglect to check a box.

(FWIW, he called the IRS and was unable to get a definitive answer. He may need to call again and try to get someone a little more knowledgeable)

11

In general, if the mistake isn't going to affect the amount of tax owed, it's probably not worth filing a 1040X over it. As you say, he doesn't "need to change [his] income, deductions, or credits". (I'm assuming that it's just that the box wasn't checked, and not that he calculated a payment needed when in fact a payment was not needed.) Generally they won't let you know about changes they make to your tax return that don't change the amount owed, and any interest due is based on a percentage of the amount due, and any percent of zero is zero. If they can figure out that no penalty was due from the 1095 forms the insurance companies send in, I suspect they'll just mark it as Full Year Coverage in their computers (which may even happen automatically depending how good their computers are handling the matching) and move on. I doubt that he's the only person to have done so this year. (In fact, I think I may have managed to miss it the first year it was on the forms, and I never heard anything back from the IRS.)

If the IRS can't figure out the insurance coverage information from the 1095 forms they get, or if for whatever other reason they do want confirmation from the taxpayer that they were covered, they'll let you know via mail. (And apparently, according to another answer here, that has in fact happened in some cases.) In that case, it should suffice to simply respond with the documentation that he had health care, possibly by filing a 1040X with that information at that time. But I'd wait until asked, just because there's not a lot of point in rushing things if there's no additional tax due and it's from a simple mistake.

(My personal feeling is that the only reason they put the box on the form in the first place was as a way to try to inform people that they should check to ensure that they have qualifying coverage, not because they actually need it to assess taxes, since putting a zero in the box or leaving in blank would suffice. Perhaps they felt it was needed just to have it be a more specific attestation under penalty of perjury that people had insurance in order to help prosecute fraud? But if the tax is zero and the bottom line is right, they're unlikely to spend money sending out notices and worrying about getting the box checked by the taxpayer.)

  • 3
    Agreed. We are not required to send in documentation to "prove" that we had coverage, only to affirm that we had coverage by checking the box. If the taxpayer does not include a penalty on line 61, it should be implied that the taxpayer is claiming coverage. (The IRS receives a 1095-B from the insurance company informing them of coverage.) If the IRS has a question about your return, they'll let you know. (By mail, of course, not e-mail or phone!) – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Feb 21 '17 at 15:35
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The IRS is not actively enforcing the health care mandate this year, so don't worry about it. If you had health care, it is not actionable anyway.

  • "The IRS is not actively enforcing the health care mandate this year "It's not true that the IRS is not actively enforcing the mandate. Nowhere does it say that. They are enforcing it the same as they always have. This year was planned to be the first year they start rejecting returns for not checking the box on that line (in previous years they didn't reject returns for not checking the box), and they changed their plans to not start rejecting returns for that reason this year. They will still enforce the mandate, as they are required to do by law. – user102008 Feb 21 '17 at 21:40
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If you fail to check the box indicating you have the required health coverage, you must indeed file 1040X to correct your 1040.

I made this exact error on my 2015 1040, and just realized the error, as I recently received a notice from the IRS which reads in part:

We show that you didn't address your health coverage on your tax return.

Dear Taxpayer:

Your tax return for 2015 is missing information about your health care coverage. The law requires you to do one of these three things on your tax return:

  • Check the full-year coverage box
  • Claim an exemption from the requirement to have health coverage
  • Report a payment

You didn't take any of these actions on your tax return. To correct this, you must file a Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Report full-year coverage

If you, your spouse, and your dependents had qualifying health coverage for all 12 months of the year, you simply need to check "yes" in the full-year coverage box on page 1 of Form 1040X.

...

0

I just got a letter from the IRS about not checking off the box on line 61 saying I had insurance all year. I have to fax or e-mail a response to them (with a copy of the letter) answering 3 questions: did I have full year coverage, did I qualify for tax exemption from the requirement to have insurance and if I answered no to both these questions then I have to fill out how much I owe. If I don't respond the IRS will figure out how much I owe and deduct that from my refund. THE LETTER ALSO SAID I WILL GET MY REFUND 6 TO 8 WEEKS AFTER THE TIME THEY RECEIVE MY RESPONSE.

0

Some raised the question of needing the checkbox at all as one could tell whether someone had insurance the whole year by whether there was an amount on line 61.

Some programmers of tax software actually use the checkbox. I had a full year of insurance with half year from my former employer and half year through the marketplace. Because the tax preparer did NOT mark the checkbox, the software assumed I only had half a year of coverage. It calculated whether I owed something due the the premium tax credit I received but THEN calculated a penalty tax for the half year I had employer insurance-- all because the box wasn't marked.

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