Government to reach out, provide resources to ease health care tax filing burden

By Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.

Taxpayers who are faced for the first time this tax season with complying with the health care law provisions will be able to get help from the government, the secretaries of the Treasury and of Health and Human Services announced on Thursday.

The announcement said that “[i]n 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.” The announcement did not specify what those tools and resources would consist of. Information is also available at the IRS’s Affordable Care Act Tax Provisions webpage or at healthcare.gov/taxes.

The government also plans to email, phone, and text individual taxpayers who got coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaces. The outreach will focus on taxpayers who received advance premium tax credits, to explain the tax effects of these payments. The government will also participate in community outreach and partner with “top tax preparers” to ensure taxpayers have the information they need this tax season.

Taxpayers who were covered for the entire year by health insurance obtained through their workplace will only have to check a box on line 61 of Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to indicate that they had health coverage. The government estimates that over three-quarters of filers will fall into this category.

The rest of those filing individual returns either will have received health coverage through a Health Insurance Marketplace or will not have health insurance coverage. Those who obtained insurance through the Marketplace will receive Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, which will explain their coverage and detail any premium tax credit they received in advance.

Taxpayers who had no insurance coverage for any part of 2014, either through work, the government, or the Marketplace, owe a fee (called the individual shared-responsibility payment), unless they qualify for an exemption.

Sally P. Schreiber is a JofA senior editor.

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