Georgia residents and other taxpayers didn’t have to disclose whether they had health coverage when filing their returns in 2017. However, the IRS says that it will not process electronically filed returns that don’t address health care status in 2018. If a filer sends in a paper return, it may be suspended until adequate information is provided. Refunds may be delayed until a tax return has been processed.

In previous years, the IRS policy was to accept returns that didn’t have health coverage information. It would request such information if it became necessary after the fact. As a general rule, it is easier for the government to collect information upfront as opposed to billing taxpayers later after issuing a refund. It may also be easier for the taxpayer as the issue can be resolved in a timely manner when information may be more accessible to that person.

Those who are covered by Medicare or similar government programs are considered to be covered under the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA). Workers who are covered by an employer plan are also considered to be covered even if the coverage was free to the employee. Those who don’t have coverage must pay a fine equal to 2.5 percent of their adjusted gross income. Alternatively, it may be possible to obtain a waiver or exemption.

Individuals who may owe money to the IRS are generally better off resolving the issue as soon as possible. Failure to do so could result in assets being seized or wages being garnished. Taxpayers who don’t want to talk with the IRS could hire an attorney to do so on their behalf. An attorney could work to help improve the chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in a tax matter.