IHS eligible individuals now able to claim exemption through tax filing process

Press release: Indian Health Service

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced last week that individuals eligible to receive health care from an Indian Health Service (IHS), tribal, or urban Indian health program provider are now able to claim an exemption from the shared responsibility payment through the tax filing process starting with the 2014 tax year. This benefit was previously only available to members of federally recognized tribes (including Alaska Native shareholders). American Indian and Alaska Native individuals will continue to have the option of submitting the exemption application through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Prior to this week’s announcement, only individuals who were members of a federally recognized tribe were able to claim an exemption through the federal tax filing process. Individuals who are eligible to receive services from an Indian health care provider are eligible for a separate hardship exemption but were required to obtain this exemption through the Health Insurance Marketplace by filing a paper application.

The availability of the online tax filing process to apply for the hardship exemption will save time and reduce duplication of effort. Qualification for the Indian exemption can be established by attestation of membership in a federally recognized tribe or eligibility to receive services from an Indian health care provider.

Secretary Burwell first announced this updated rule at the Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee meeting on September 18, 2014. This benefit of claiming the exemption through the tax filing process was initiated based on requests by tribal leaders. The IHS worked closely with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Internal Revenue Service to extend these options to individuals eligible to receive services from an Indian health care provider.

The IHS, an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 2.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives who are members of federally recognized tribes.