Oops! I forgot the health insurance box on my tax return

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 Q. I already submitted my 2014 federal tax return, but now realize that I forgot to check the box on Form 1040 Line 61 indicating that I had full-year health coverage. Since this has no effect on any amounts, do I need to file a 1040X amended return?

A. Filing an amended return would be the most prudent course of action.

“I have no doubt that when your return is processed you will receive a notice,” said Cynthia Fusillo, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence. “This is because by not checking the box indicating full year health coverage, you would generally have to complete and attach form 8965, indicating why you are exempt from coverage.”

She said exemptions do exist, such as for those with income below certain threshold amounts or with short-term gaps in coverage. But absent an exemption, there is a penalty assessed for lack of coverage, Fusillo said.

“I would definitely file an amended return quickly, and in the explanation section state that you inadvertently omitted checking the box on line 61 on your originally filed return,” she said. “This is much less of a hassle than waiting for the notice to arrive and then trying to get the penalty waived and your return corrected.”

The latter approach could take some time, Fusillo said, so she recommends you be proactive instead.

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This post first appeared in March 2015.

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