MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s an important time of year for thousands of Minnesotans: Time to sign up for next year’s health insurance.

And if you don’t get it, get ready to pay up anyway. The new federal health care law requires American citizens to have health insurance.

The Internal Revenue Service will ask you on your 1040 tax form if you have it. If you don’t, there’s a fine.

For 2016, it’s $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, up to $2085 a family. Or,  2.5 percent of the amount above the “filing threshold,” according to the IRS ($10,150 for individuals, $20,300 for couples filing jointly in 2014) , whichever is greater.

How will the government actually know if you don’t have insurance?

The law requires insurance providers to submit something called “proof of insurance,” which includes how many months you were covered. You will receive that notice, and so will the IRS.

If you don’t have insurance, the IRS will charge you a penalty.

If you are like 80 percent of Americans, you get a tax refund and the fine will be deducted directly from your refund check. But it’s not like the IRS comes pounding on your door in the middle of the night if you don’t pay.

The health care law specifically forbids the IRS from using liens or levies to collect a health care penalty. That’s a Reality Check.

Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check.

MNsure Open Enrollment Deadlines
If You Don’t Have Insurance, How Much You’ll Pay
MNsure Health Care Mandate
Kaiser Family Foundation: Requirement to Buy Coverage
Q & A on Health Care Mandate
IRS: The Law on Health Care Mandate
IRS Refunds 2014

Pat Kessler

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