With the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, the IRS was tasked with exacting monetary fines on individual taxpayers who do not have health insurance for the full time of the reporting period, generally a calendar year. The ACA, under a provision known as Individual Shared Responsibility, even established an escalating scale for the dollar amount to be fined.

For 2017, the IRS announced that it would no longer process returns for individuals who remain “silent” about whether they had health insurance for the year. Thus refunds would not be issued until the taxpayer proved he or she had had insurance for the whole year. If no proof of insurance, then the appropriate fine could be calculated and deducted.

Following President Trump’s executive order on Jan. 20 for all federal agencies to reduce the burden of the ACA, however, the IRS announced that it would continue to process “silent” returns as it reviews the ACA in light of the president’s executive action. On its website, the IRS announced:

Processing silent returns means that taxpayer returns are not systemically rejected by the IRS at the time of filing, allowing the returns to be processed and minimizing burden on taxpayers, including those expecting a refund. When the IRS has questions about a tax return, taxpayers may receive follow-up questions and correspondence at a future date, after the filing process is completed‎. This is similar to how we handled this in previous years, and this reflects the normal IRS post-filing compliance procedures that we follow.

However, legislative provisions of the ACA law are still in force until changed by the Congress, and taxpayers remain required to follow the law and pay what they may owe‎.