Tuesday, January 6, 2015

12 hours of health and taxes

Those bracing for this year's tax season,  which features new complexities because of the Affordable Care Act,  can get free help at all H&R Block outlets from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday.

To state the obvious:  This is a business hoping to sell you on its services.  Other tax preparers can help,  too,  and you may be able to get free tax help from community groups.

Image: H&R Block
But this is one of the first chances to dig into what the ACA means for you.  The company has prepared some catchy examples of how the tax penalty for being uninsured and changes in income for people who got subsidies could affect a 2014 tax filing.  And if you walk into an H&R Block office during Thursday's 12-hour marathon,  you can get an ACA tax impact analysis that will help you prepare as your tax forms roll in.

Kathy Pickering,  executive director of Block's Tax Institute,  says one of the biggest shocks may come for people who assume they'll only pay a $95 fine if they skipped insurance.   "The reality is that the penalty varies depending on each person’s situation, and consumers may find themselves paying a higher penalty that is up to one percent of their annual household income and would come straight out of their tax refund.  That could be a difference of hundreds of dollars,” she said.

For information on the penalty from other sources,  check HealthCare.gov,  Kaiser Health News and Consumer Reports.