They paid their Obamacare fine, even though many of them apparently didn't have to.
About 7.5 million taxpayers so far have paid a penalty on their taxes for failing to have health insurance last year, as required for the first time by the Affordable Care Act, officials said Monday. That number is well in excess of original projections by officials.
The average penalty paid was about $200 per person, and in all $1.5 billion was collected by the Internal Revenue Service in these fines. However, officials stressed that "the vast majority"—85 percent—of people who paid the fines nonetheless ended up with a net tax refund from the IRS.
The Treasury Department said about 300,000 people who paid the penalty likely qualified for an exemption from having to have health coverage. There are a slew of exemptions from the Obamacare mandate based on income status or certain hardships.
"The IRS will be reaching out to these taxpayers to inform them about available exemptions and note that they may benefit from amending their tax return," said Mark Mazur, assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy, in a blog post Monday. "This outreach will also help educate taxpayers about the options they have for future years."
About 12 million people claimed one of the many exemptions from the Obamacare mandate to have coverage, officials said. This represents about 9 percent of all filers, compared to the 10 to 20 percent that it had been estimated would avail themselves of an exemption.
Another 5.1 million people failed to state they had health coverage, claim an exemption, or say they had paid the fine, officials said. The IRS is now "analyzing these cases to determine their status," according to a letter officials sent Congress.