Brace Yourselves: The ACA Questions Are Coming

Getting your first tax clientsThe ACA and how it affects taxes is going to be a major topic of discussion between you and your clients this tax season. Although the season has already started, it’s not too late to plan how you will address taxpayer questions relating to the ACA if you haven’t already.

Even though we aren’t insurance brokers, in the grand scheme of things, we are going to be the bearers of bad news if your client failed to get qualified insurance or received a premium tax credit up front and underestimated their income.

Here are some ways you can prepare for (and reduce) the questions you may get this season.

 

Get Familiar with the ACA Procedures

The IRS has released a lot of information in the past couple months to help tax preparers get ready for the upcoming season.

For a walk-through of all of the ACA Tax Provisions and other important information, review the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Tax Provisions section of irs.gov.

You should also review Publication 5187, Health Care Law: What’s New for Individuals & Families. It covers the provisions of the health care law that taxpayers will see for the first time on their tax returns this year.

You should also know the penalties, and be ready to explain why they may be more than your client was expecting. Many people might think the penalty is only $95, however the fee is calculated two ways and your client is responsible for paying the greater of the two:

  • 1% of your yearly household income. (Only the amount of income above the tax filing threshold, $10,150 for an individual under 65, is used to calculate the penalty.) The maximum penalty is the national average premium for a bronze plan.
  • $95 per person for the year ($47.50 per child under 18). The maximum penalty per family using this method is $285.

You’ll also need to be able to explain why a client who received a premium tax credit might owe additional taxes when they file their return. IRS.gov has a section on Premium Tax Credits if you need to brush up.

 

Know where to go for information

The IRS also has a database of information written specifically for tax preparers called The ACA Information Center for Tax Professionals.

 

Know Your Forms

There are some new forms you’ll need to know about as well as changes to existing forms.

Clients who purchased insurance through the exchanges will need to bring you form 1095-A. This form lists everyone in the household who has coverage and what the government paid in subsidies for each person.

Form 8962 is the Premium Tax Credit Form for claiming or reconciling subsidies.

Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions is to report a coverage exemption granted by the Marketplace, or to claim a coverage exemption on a client’s tax return. In addition, if for any month a taxpayer or anyone listed on their tax return had neither qualified health care coverage nor an exemption, the instructions for Form 8965 explain how to calculate the shared responsibility payment.

 

Client Communication

Client communication is going to be crucial this season. If you want to be proactive (and save time answering questions), you should start prepping clients now.

You can do this through:

  • Email newsletters
  • Free Q&A seminars at your office
  • Social Media
  • Mail
  • Over the phone when you call to schedule appointments

You should communicate things like:

  • Forms they need to bring
  • The penalties and fees they may owe
  • Information on how the ACA may affect their return
  • Send information on exemptions and how to qualify
  • Remind them to get insurance by Feb.15th to avoid the penalty next year

 

Are you prepped and ready for the season? Tell us how you’re handling the ACA changes.

 

More Great Reads

Affordable Care Act Updates Tax Preparers Should Know About

Educating Clients on the Affordable Care Act

2015 Tax Season Preview

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One thought on “Brace Yourselves: The ACA Questions Are Coming

  1. Thanks Chuck to encourage the tax planners to have keen knowledge of ACA or Affordable Care Act as it is going to help plan income tax filling this financial year. This is something new for the people of United States so there are going to be too many queries related to it. Even employers have to prepare themselves about the ACA as they need to help steer employees into a right direction. There are new forms associated with ACA which have to be filled this year. So as advised by you Chuck it is better to start informing the clients about this ACA. well in advance. People hardly know the Advance Premium Tax Credit associated with ACA which is a tax credit given to those who have purchased the health insurance from market plan and this tax credits have to be reconciled at the time of filling the tax. So better start preparing as too many questions are on the way from the clients. Questions related to exemptions for fine are also to be answered. So better get started by preparing with the most possible knowledge of ACA.

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