Liberty Tax offices with onsite health insurance agents opened on November 1 to offer taxpayers help with Obamacare enrollment and plan renewals.

The tax prep chain said it expects an increase in the number of Americans shopping for health insurance as tax penalties for the uninsured jump in 2016. Americans who are uninsured next year face a penalty of $695 per adult and $347.50 per child younger than 18, or 2.5 percent of taxable household income, whichever is greater. The lowest 2016 penalty is more than double the 2015 figure of $325 per adult and significantly greater than the $95 penalty some of the uninsured paid with their 2014 tax returns.

“Last year, some people may have decided to pay the penalty because it cost them less than paying for health insurance," said Chuck Lovelace, vice president of ACA for Liberty. “This year, forgoing health insurance may not be cost-effective.”

Liberty’s November 1 opening coincides with open enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace, which runs through January 31.

In the 2015 tax season, according to Liberty, almost 2 million taxpayers received letters from the IRS stating that their health-care subsidies were in jeopardy because they either failed to file a return or failed to include proper health insurance paperwork when they filed.

In what some independent preparers spotted as shrewd marketing by the chain that already has some locations year-round, Liberty said that it recognized early ACA’s impact on households and on tax prep; among other things, it assisted preparers and franchisees in becoming licensed health insurance agents.

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