Few people understand the complex and often confusing United States Tax Code as well as John Hewitt. When the biggest IRS story of the year hit the press news wires it was Hewitt who answered the call to explain the IRS Scandal. In the first of 25 articles on the biggest stories of the year, Examiner.com will follow up on the top stories and new developments. The first story is the healthcare deadline.
Jackson Hewitt Tax Service will now help uninsured taxpayers who missed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Health Insurance Application Deadline. “For taxpayers who missed the initial deadline, or may be confused by their options, not to worry Jackson Hewitt will help customers understand their new options under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at the time of tax preparation. So, for those looking to have coverage effective at the next available window—February 1, 2014—they’ll want to swing by their nearest Jackson Hewitt location right after the New Year. Some customers who are eligible for Medicaid may even qualify for coverage retroactive to January 1, 2014,” the company said.
Every major network and newspaper has now reported on the failure of the launch of the Healthcare.gov website in what President Barack Obama called his biggest mistake of his presidency. The mass confusion over the online enrollment process was first reported by Examiner.com months before the main stream media began to report the problems with the online enrollment process. "We know that many taxpayers have had trouble signing up for coverage," said Brian Haile, senior vice president for Health Care Policy, Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. "We can help our paid tax prep customers with the government process for no additional fee."
Jackson-Hewitt recognizes that after the holidays, the first time most families have available cash is when they receive their tax refund during the tax filing season. The refund amounts are considerable: for the 2011 tax year, the average federal refund for families with incomes between $15,000 and $50,000 exceeded $2,800. Indeed, the federal tax refund represents the largest single "paycheck" that most American families receive during the year. And these are precisely the families that the ACA is intended to benefit (i.e., those between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level). Since the tax refund is so important for these taxpayers, they shouldn't risk losing a portion of that to a tax penalty for being uninsured, according to Jackson Hewitt.
Tax preparers spend years in classes learning about the tax codes and exemptions. Any person expecting to understand changes in the tax laws and new government rules and requirements based on preparing a single tax filing once a year is in for a rude awakening. For example, Jackson Hewitt will help customers complete the necessary application forms to apply for coverage. The customer need only sign the forms after the tax expert figures out the tax credit eligibility.
Here are some important tips from the tax experts:
1. Taxes and health care are connected. What people qualify for under the ACA depends on
how much money they make and how many people they have in their family.
2. Insurance coverage may be free for some eligible customers. For other taxpayers the
cost of insurance will depend on their age, where they live and if they smoke or not. Taxpayers
may also qualify for a big tax credit to help pay for insurance. Coverage under Medicaid and the
Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is generally free.
3. People may be charged a tax penalty if they don't have health insurance in 2014. Even
having one uninsured person in your tax household can be enough to trigger a penalty for the
whole family. In the first year that penalty will generally be almost 1% of the household income.
Each year, the penalty for not having health insurance will get bigger.
Hewitt told the present writer that it is better to allow a professional tax preparer to do your taxes. When asked how IRS could make such a mistake this was his response, " It is an interesting dichotomy, in the sense that it is extremely good for us that the IRS is heavy handed or can be heavy handed. Because 1/3 of the people that pay a preparer come in just because they are afraid of the IRS," Hewitt said.
Hewitt was fair to point out that there are tens of thousands of federal government employees. "Occasionally you'll have an overzealous person that is too tough, goes over the line, just like you can in every organization," Hewitt said.
The IRS tax laws change frequently. Tax professionals go to tax schools all year to keep up with those changes. Even the smartest people in the nation allow tax professionals to fill out their tax forms. Contact Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, H&R Block, or Liberty Tax Service to help prepare your taxes. It will be much cheaper than a tax audit or stiff fines and penalties for mistakes and errors.
Next up: The Government Shutdown heard around the world. Stay tuned.