SHOCKER: People who receive federal tax credits have to file federal tax returns!

The New York Times has an article this morning with one passage that made my jaw drop:

In July, the Internal Revenue Service said 710,000 people who had received subsidies under the Affordable Care Act had not filed tax returns and had not requested more time to do so.

If those people do not return to the marketplace this fall, they may be automatically re-enrolled in the same or similar health plans at full price. And when they receive an invoice from the insurance company next year, they may be shocked to see that their subsidies have been cut to zero.

Erin M. Lackey, 41, of Jacksonville, Vt., was one of many people who received letters from the I.R.S. saying they were at risk of losing their tax credits.

Her mother, Ruth J. O’Hearn, a nurse who helps her daughter with insurance matters, described her own reaction.

“At first, I was angry,” Ms. O’Hearn said. “Then I felt frustration and fear. You can’t be without insurance. Without the subsidy, health insurance would be unaffordable. Without insurance, the cost of medical care would be unaffordable.”

Are you kidding me?

Look, the later part of the article talks about the form in question itself, IRS Form 8962, being overly complicated, and perhaps it is. It's 2 pages, and while it's certainly not as bad as some other federal tax forms, I can definitely see it being intimidating to those who are used to just filling out the 1040-EZ form, as I did years ago. Comic strips and sitcoms have used the "Taxes Are Hard!!" meme as comedic fodder for decades. So no, I'm not going to berate anyone complaining about the form being difficult to fill out.

HOWEVER, complaining about having to file a tax return AT ALL? You're receiving thousands of dollars in tax credits and you didn't think you'd have to fill out a tax form in order to prove your eligibility?

Yes, I'm aware that plenty of public services don't require you to fill out a federal tax return, but I'm pretty sure the actual enrollment process at HealthCare.Gov as well as the various state based exchanges all make it clear, multiple times, that you'll have to verify your income/eligibility when you file your taxes.

Perhaps Ms. O'Hearn was taken out of context here, the way that Luis Lang was last spring. If that's the case, then never mind...but if that attitude is really prevalent among thousands of ACA exchange enrollees, I can only sigh deeply.

Yes, folks, you do have to file a federal income tax return in order to receive federal income tax credits.