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TRICARE, taxes, and the Affordable Care Act

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The new Affordable Care Act requires individuals to have health insurance or face potential penalties via federal income tax filing.

So what does this mean for TRICARE beneficiaries? TRICARE beneficiaries must have had the Minimum Essential Coverage for the entire 2014 tax year in order to avoid paying potential penalties. The complete list of TRICARE coverage that meets MEC can be found at www.tricare.mil/ACA, but Prime, Standard, and TRICARE for Life are just a few examples that meet MEC requirements.

Employers and healthcare plans are not required to report individual coverage to the IRS until the 2015 tax year. So how do TRICARE beneficiaries report their MEC for 2014? The reporting method for the 2014 tax year will be done through individual income tax fillings using 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ IRS tax forms. Beneficiaries should look for the "Health Care: individual responsibility (see instructions)" line on the applicable tax form and check the full-year coverage box if they in fact had MEC for the entire calendar year. It's line 61 on the 1040; line 38 on the 1040A; and line 11 on the 1040EZ.

Finally, what if a beneficiary or family member didn't have a full year of MEC for 2014? Those beneficiaries may be required to pay a "shared responsibility payment" for the 2014 tax year. They should refer to the IRS website, www.irs.gov/uac/Individual-Shared-Responsibility-Provision for more information.

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