Tax Preparers and the Affordable Care Act

This morning Kaiser Health News published an article highlighting how tax preparers are going to navigate the new filing requirements as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

Many consumers will simply check a box to indicate that they had health coverage for the entirety of the previous year (2014), but for the 25-30 million who either did not have insurance or recently gained coverage through healthcare.gov, the filing requirements are slightly more complex.

Consumers may face sticker shock as a result of the penalty for not having coverage during 2014. While many believe that the penalty is $95, it is actually $95 per adult or 1% of their income, whichever is greater. In addition, families can be penalized $47.50 per child under the age of 18. For more information, see our fact sheet on penalties and exemptions.

While many recipients of the advance premium tax credit (APTC) were assisted by navigators or Marketplace representatives who could manage expectation around tax season and anticipated refunds, there are many more who either self-enrolled or were assisted by insurance agents who might not have provided the necessary education around tax filing. Tax preparers are going to have to tell countless families that their refund might not be what they expected because they received the tax credits in advance to cover health insurance costs.

Georgia Watch will be working to assist consumers by creating an easy to search map of free and reliable tax preparation sites around the state. We are excited to be working with AARP and the IRS Vita program in this endeavor. We will also be publishing materials and conducting workshops on how to ensure that consumers who received these tax credits can file in compliance with the Act. We are grateful to our partners at Seedco for their support in educating and assisting consumers during healthcare enrollment efforts.

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