New Law Makes Tax Preparers Obamacare Advisers

Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 11:57 AM

By Courtney Coren

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Tax preparers and accountants now have the job of making sure their clients are educated about Obamacare's tax implications.

"Many people don't realize it's the law, and you have to have insurance," Iris Burnell, a Jackson Hewitt Tax Service adviser, told The New York Times. "They still think there's a way to worm out of it."

Portions of the new healthcare law, including the requirement to buy insurance, for certain employers to provide it, and subsidies to help individuals pay for it, were all written into the tax code.

Two tax-related healthcare provisions that will affect taxpayers when they file next year is the penalty for not having insurance and money owed if they received too much in government subsidies to help pay for their insurance.

Taxpayers who don't buy insurance will have to pay $95 per adult or 1 percent of the income for the household to the federal government, whichever is more, but not more than $10,150 for individuals or $20,300 for married couples filing jointly. These penalties are expected to increase in future years.

Tax preparation companies such as Jackson Hewitt and H&R Block as well as tax software companies such as Intuit, maker of TurboTax, are offering customers healthcare reviews and calculators to help their clients understand what their potential penalties could be if they don't purchase health insurance.

"Despite all the attention to the Affordable Care Act, many people — the average Joe on the street — are still confused about the law, the tax credits, the penalties," Mark Ciaramitaro, vice president for healthcare enrollment services at H&R Block, told the Times.

H&R Block now advertises healthcare services on its website. "The name you trust for all your tax needs now also offers friendly, unbiased help when it comes to choosing health insurance."

The three tax preparation giants have also teamed up with online health insurance brokers for clients to peruse if they are in need of coverage — Jackson Hewitt is working with GetInsured, H&R Block with GoHealth, and TurboTax with e-Health.


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