The Treasury Department and the Department of Health and Human Services are getting ready for the 2015 tax-filing season and the onslaught of questions they anticipate about the Affordable Care Act.
In the next few weeks, the Obama administration plans to offer resources to help taxpayers prepare for tax-filing season, including online tools to help individuals connect with local tax preparation services and determine if they’re eligible for an exemption from the health insurance mandate. The administration said it intends to continue to work with “top tax preparers” to provide consumers with the information they need to prepare for tax season.
While including health insurance information will become a routine step in filing taxes, this is the first time families will be asked to answer basic questions regarding their health insurance on their tax returns, the administration noted. Millions of Americans who get their health insurance through work are affected by the Affordable Care Act, and millions of others who have signed up for the health insurance marketplaces have received financial assistance through premium tax credits to lower their monthly premiums.
Starting this year, consumers will see some changes to their tax returns. The Treasury Department and HHS noted that over three-quarters of tax filers will only need to check a box on their tax return indicating they had health coverage in 2014. However, people who have coverage through the health insurance marketplaces, or decided not to enroll in coverage, should be aware of some additional steps that will be a part of the tax filing process starting this year.
Those with coverage from one of the health insurance marketplaces will receive a new form in the mail from the marketplace, Form 1095-A, which they will use to reconcile their upfront financial assistance. While those who can afford to buy health insurance and choose not to will have to pay a fee, individuals who can’t afford coverage or meet other conditions can receive an exemption.
“For the vast majority of Americans, tax filing under the Affordable Care Act will be as simple as checking a box to show they had health coverage all year,” said Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew in a statement. “A fraction of taxpayers will take different steps, like claiming an exemption if they could not afford insurance or ensuring they received the correct amount of financial assistance. A smaller fraction of taxpayers will pay a fee if they made a choice to not obtain coverage they could afford. We are working to ensure that whatever their experience, consumers can easily access clear information since this is the first year they will see certain changes to their tax returns.”
In the coming weeks, consumer-friendly tools and resources will be made available for those tax filers who have health coverage through the health insurance marketplaces, those seeking an exemption, and those looking for information about the fee for those who could afford to purchase health coverage but chose not to. General resources can be found at www.IRS.gov/ACA or https://www.healthcare.gov/taxes/.
The administration cited several online documents already available from the IRS on Health Care Law: What’s New for Individuals & Families, and from HHS on 3 Tips About Marketplace Coverage & Your Taxes and No Health Coverage? What That Means for Your Taxes.
To reach consumers with the information they need to prepare for the upcoming tax season, the administration plans to employ a variety of outreach and consumer education efforts, including direct outreach to marketplace enrollees. Through email, phone and text messages the administration will reach out to people who received coverage through the health insurance marketplace with personalized information that is most relevant to their tax status. The administration will focus on providing targeted messaging to consumers who benefited from an advanced premium tax credit last year to help them offset the cost of their marketplace premiums.
Working with community organizations on the ground, nonprofit organizations, marketplace navigators and other in-person assisters, the administration also intends to provide guidance and resources to consumers looking for answers.
“Last year, millions of Americans purchased quality, affordable health coverage through the marketplace, and the vast majority received tax credits that cut their monthly premiums,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell in a statement. “This benefit, which in many cases helped make the cost of health care less than the cost of a cell phone or cable bill, enabled these consumers to enjoy the benefits of coverage throughout the year. In the coming weeks, HHS will work with other agencies, tax preparers and community organizations to arm these consumers with the information they need to know as they prepare to file their taxes. We will also be providing helpful tools so that the millions of taxpayers who qualify for an exemption can receive one.”
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