Taxes and health insurance are merging this spring.
As the current open enrollment period for Covered California ends Feb. 15, tax season has started, and whether one has health insurance will be asked on the 2014 tax return.
The “shared responsibility payment” takes effect for 2014, and many who were uninsured will see an impact when they prepare their taxes due in April of this year.
Those who had insurance through work or purchased individual policies will need to check a box on their tax return indicating they had health insurance coverage for all of 2014.
Those who purchased policies in the Health Insurance marketplace will need to provide additional information, including a new statement — Form 1095-A. This is especially important for individuals who had tax credits to lower the monthly premiums.
The IRS stresses that it is very important to wait for Form-1095-A to arrive before filing taxes. If you haven’t received Form 1095-A by early February, you should contact the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596.
While those who can afford health coverage but chose not to buy it may have to pay a fee, individuals who could not afford coverage or met other conditions can receive an exemption. It is important for individuals to know that exemptions are available and to understand the steps they need to take to request one.
A variety of exemptions are available, including if the cost of coverage was too expensive, if you were uninsured for only a short period of time, if you experienced a hardship, such as medical expenses resulting in substantial debt or if a close family member passed away.
For a complete list of exemptions and more information, read Information about health insurance marketplace exemptions or visit HealthCare.gov/taxes.
If you didn’t have health insurance and do not qualify for an exemption, you will likely have to pay a fee or penalty.
“It’s important that consumers understand now that the cost of remaining uninsured is rising,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee wrote in a press release. “This year, a family of four earning $70,000 a year could pay close to $1,000 in their taxes if they remain uninsured in 2015.”
The 2014 penalty for this family would be $497 and rises each year.
In 2016, the same family of four would pay $988 for not being covered in 2015 and would likely pay $2,085 in 2016 if they do not have health coverage, depending on their specific circumstances.
Covered Cal reported that during the current open enrollment period, which ends Feb. 15, more than 1,099,200 people sought coverage and were determined eligible for private health insurance and eligible or likely eligible for Medi-Cal. This includes 217,146 plan selections for private coverage, as well as 466,778 enrollments into Medi-Cal coverage and 110,913 who are likely eligible for Medi-Cal. Since January 2014, Medi-Cal has enrolled more than 2.2 million consumers.