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Your Taxes and the Affordable Care Act
Starting with this year's filing season, taxpayers must report certain information related to health care coverage on their 2014 tax return when they file this April. In addition, taxpayers must provide proof of health insurance coverage or that they have received an exemption.
With that in mind, let's take a look at how the Affordable Care Act might affect your tax situation, and based on your type of coverage, which new tax forms you might be receiving.
Tip: For additional information about IRS tax forms related to health care insurance, please see the article, Health Care Law: Changes to IRS Tax Forms, below.
The biggest change for most taxpayers is found on Line 61 of Form 1040, where individuals must either check a box to show they had health insurance or pay a penalty. In general, the penalty applies to individuals who did not have health insurance for more than three months in 2014.
In 2014, the penalty is the greater of one percent of modified adjusted gross income or $95 per adult ($47.50 per child under age 18, up to a maximum of $285 per family). While the IRS cannot issue a lien against you in order to make you pay the penalty, they are allowed to withhold the money from your refund.
Certain persons may qualify for an exemption from the penalty such as those who do not need to file a tax return ($10,150 for individuals, $13,050 for heads of household, and $20,300 for a married couples filing jointly). Other exceptions (there are eight in total) include being a member of a federally recognized tribe or qualifying for a hardship exemption if you filed for bankruptcy in the last 6 months or had medical expenses you couldn't pay in the last 24 months that resulted in substantial debt.
There's an additional twist for the approximately eight million people who purchased health insurance through the Healthcare Marketplace ("the Exchanges"), many of whom received subsidies that were paid to insurance companies and applied directly to their insurance premiums.
What taxpayers might not realize is that in many cases these subsidies were based on household size and income for 2012. Remember, the enrollment period began October 1, 2013 before taxpayers had filed their 2013 tax returns.
If income or household size changed in 2014 and the IRS was not notified of these updates, taxpayers may be liable for paying additional subsidy monies or conversely, receive refunds for amounts overpaid. In other words, if you received a bonus in 2014 (change in household income), it could mean that you owe the government money.
Enrollment through an Employer, Private Insurance, Medicaid or Medicare
New Tax Forms: 1095-B, 1095-C
1095-B. If your healthcare coverage is provided by private insurers or self-funded plans, you should receive Form 1095-B; however, because tax year 2014 is a transition year, these forms are not required when filing your 2014 tax return.
1095-C. If your healthcare coverage is provided by your employer, you should receive Form 1095-C; however, because tax year 2014 is a transition year, these forms are not required when filing your 2014 tax return.
Enrollment through the Healthcare Marketplace
New Tax Forms: 1095-A, Form 8962
Form 1095-A. If you purchased health insurance from the Marketplace you will receive Form 1095-A showing details of your coverage such as the effective date, amount of your premium payment, and any advanced premium credit you received.
Form 8962. The amount of any advanced premium credit you received in 2014 is reported on Form 8962. This form is also used to figure out the actual premium credit as well.
No Health Insurance
If you DO qualify for an exemption: Taxpayers must apply for the exemption from the Marketplace and if approved, will receive an exemption certificate number, which must be reported on Form 8965.
If you DO NOT qualify for an exemption: Taxpayers that do not qualify for an exemption and are uninsured are required to pay a penalty (see above) when filing their tax return. Form 8965 is used to calculate the penalty.
Don't hesitate to call or email with any questions about the ACA and your taxes.
Taxpayer Beware: Phishing and Phone Scams
IRS impersonation phone scams, as well as phishing continue to be a serious threat to taxpayers topping the list of the IRS "Dirty Dozen" tax schemes once again.
The IRS impersonation phone scam has claimed nearly 3,000 victims who have collectively paid over $14 million, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration recently warned.
Phishing email scams continue to be pervasive as well. Illegal scams such as these can lead to significant penalties and interest and possible criminal prosecution. IRS Criminal Investigation works closely with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to shutdown scams and prosecute the criminals behind them.
Both IRS impersonation phone scams and phishing are on the list of the annual IRS list of "Dirty Dozen" tax schemes. Compiled annually, the "Dirty Dozen" lists a variety of common scams that taxpayers may encounter anytime but many of these schemes peak during filing season as people prepare their returns or find people to help with their taxes.
IRS Impersonation Phone Scams
Phone scams, which have hit taxpayers in every State in the country top the "Dirty Dozen" list this year because it has been a persistent and pervasive problem for many taxpayers for many months. Here's how it works:
Callers claiming to be from the IRS tell intended victims they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. Anyone who refuses to pay is threatened with immediate arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver's license.
Scammers are able to alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS badge numbers. They often leave "urgent" callback requests.
They prey on the most vulnerable people, such as the elderly, newly arrived immigrants and those whose first language is not English. Scammers have also been known to impersonate agents from IRS Criminal Investigation as well.
"It is critical that all taxpayers continue to be wary of unsolicited telephone calls from individuals claiming to be IRS employees," said TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George. "This scam, which is international in nature, has proven to be the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen. The callers are aggressive, they are relentless, and they are ruthless. Once they have your attention, they will say anything to con you out of your hard-earned cash."
Taxpayers should keep the following in mind:
Phishing Email Scams
Phishing is a scam that is typically carried out with the help of unsolicited email or a fake website that poses as a legitimate site to lure in potential victims and prompt them to provide valuable personal and financial information. Armed with this information, a criminal can commit identity theft or financial theft.
It is important to keep in mind the IRS generally does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.
"The IRS won't send you an email about a bill or refund out of the blue. Don't click on one claiming to be from the IRS that takes you by surprise," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "I urge taxpayers to be wary of clicking on strange emails and websites. They may be scams to steal your personal information."
How to Protect Yourself
Don't be fooled. These con artists can sound convincing when they call and they may know a lot about you.
"These criminals try to scare and shock you into providing personal financial information on the spot while you are off guard," Koskinen said. "Don't be taken in and don't engage these people over the phone."
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here's what you should do:
If you receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), report it by sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you think you've been a victim of an IRS impersonation phone scam or phishing don't hesitate to call.
Five Ways to Improve Your Financial Situation
If you are having trouble paying your debts, it is important to take action sooner rather than later. Doing nothing leads to much larger problems in the future, whether it's a bad credit record or bankruptcy resulting in the loss of assets and even your home. If you're in financial trouble, then here are some steps to take to avoid financial ruin in the future.
If you've accumulated a large amount of debt and are having difficulty paying your bills each month, now is the time to take action--before the bill collectors start calling.
1. Review each debt. Make sure that the debt creditors claim you owe is really what you owe and that the amount is correct. If you dispute a debt, first contact the creditor directly to resolve your questions. If you still have questions about the debt, contact your state or local consumer protection office or, in cases of serious creditor abuse, your state Attorney General.
2. Contact your creditors. Let your creditors know you are having difficulty making your payments. Tell them why you are having trouble-perhaps it is because you recently lost your job or have unexpected medical bills. Try to work out an acceptable payment schedule with your creditors. Most are willing to work with you and will appreciate your honesty and forthrightness.
3. Budget your expenses. Create a spending plan that allows you to reduce your debts. Itemize your necessary expenses (such as housing and health care) and optional expenses (such as entertainment and vacation travel). Stick to the plan.
4. Try to reduce your expenses. Cut out any unnecessary spending such as eating out and purchasing expensive entertainment. Consider taking public transportation or using a car sharing service rather than owning a car. Clip coupons, purchase generic products at the supermarket and avoid impulse purchases. Above all, stop incurring new debt. Leave your credit cards at home. Pay for all purchases in cash or use a debit card instead of a credit card.
5. Pay down and consolidate your debts. Withdrawing savings from low-interest accounts to settle high-rate loans or credit card debt usually makes sense. In addition, there are a number of ways to pay off high-interest loans, such as credit cards, by getting a refinancing or consolidation loan, such as a second mortgage.
You can regain financial health if you act responsibly. But don't wait until bankruptcy court is your only option. If you're having financial troubles, don't hesitate to call.
Missing Your Form W-2?
You should receive a Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, from each of your employers for use in preparing your federal tax return. Employers must furnish this record of 2014 earnings and withheld taxes no later than February 2, 2015 (if mailed, allow a few days for delivery).
If you do not receive your Form W-2, contact your employer to find out if and when the W-2 was mailed. If it was mailed, it may have been returned to your employer because of an incorrect address. After contacting your employer, allow a reasonable amount of time for your employer to resend or to issue the W-2.
If you still do not receive your W-2 by February 15th, contact the IRS for assistance at 1-800-829-1040. When you call, have the following information handy:
If you misplaced your W-2, contact your employer. Your employer can replace the lost form with a "reissued statement." Be aware that your employer is allowed to charge you a fee for providing you with a new W-2.
You still must file your tax return on time even if you do not receive your Form W-2. If you cannot get a W-2 by the tax filing deadline, you may use Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, but it will delay any refund due while the information is verified.
If you receive a corrected W-2 after your return is filed and the information it contains does not match the income or withheld tax that you reported on your return, you must file an amended return on Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.
If you have questions about your Forms W-2 or 1099 or any other tax-related materials, please call or email.
Updated Withholding Tables for 2015
Updated income-tax withholding tables for 2015 have been released by the IRS and supersede early release withholding tables issued in December 2014. The newly revised version contains percentage method income-tax withholding tables and related information that employers need to implement these changes.
In addition, employers should continue withholding Social Security tax at the rate of 6.2 percent of wages paid. The Social Security wage base limit increases to $118,500. The Medicare tax rate remains at 1.45 percent each for the employee and employer.
The additional Medicare tax of .09 percent for employees (not employers) remains in effect and should be withheld from employee wages that exceed $200,000 in a calendar year, at the beginning in the pay period in which the employee's wages exceed $200,000.
In 2015 the amount for one withholding allowance on an annual basis is $4,000. Employers should start using the revised withholding tables and correct the amount of Social Security tax withheld as soon as possible in 2015, but not later than February 15, 2015. For any Social Security tax under-withheld before that date, employers should make the appropriate adjustment in workers' pay as soon as possible, but not later than March 31, 2015.
Employers and payroll companies handle the withholding changes, so workers typically won't need to take any additional action, such as filling out a new W-4 withholding form. Individuals and couples with multiple jobs, people who are having children, getting married, getting divorced or buying a home, and those who typically wind up with a balance due or large refund at the end of the year may want to consider submitting revised W-4 forms.
As always, it's prudent for workers to review their withholding every year and, if necessary, fill out a new W-4 to give to their employer. For example, individuals and couples with multiple jobs, people who are having children, getting married, getting divorced or buying a home, and those who typically wind up with a balance due or large refund at the end of the year may want to consider submitting revised W-4 forms.
Please call the office if you have any questions about income tax withholding in 2015.
Health Care Law: Changes to IRS Tax Forms
This year, there are some changes to tax forms related to the Affordable Care Act. Along with several new lines on existing forms, there are also two new forms that need to be included with some tax returns.
While most taxpayers simply need to check a box on their tax return to indicate they had health coverage for all of 2014, there are new lines on Forms 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ related to the health care law. Information about the new forms and updates to existing forms is summarized below
Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions
Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit
Additionally, if individuals purchased coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, they should receive Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, which will help complete Form 8962.
For more information about the Affordable Care Act or assistance filing your 2014 income tax return, don't hesitate to call.
Tax Due Dates for February 2015
Employers - Give your employees their copies of Form W-2 for 2014 by February 2, 2015. If an employee agreed to receive Form W-2 electronically, post it on a website accessible to the employee and notify the employee by February 2, 2015.
Businesses - Give annual information statements to recipients of 1099 payments made during 2014.
Employers - Federal unemployment tax. File Form 940 for 2014. If your undeposited tax is $500 or less, you can either pay it with your return or deposit it. If it is more than $500, you must deposit it. However, if you already deposited the tax for the year in full and on time, you have until February 10 to file the return.
Employers - Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. File Form 941 for the fourth quarter of 2014. Deposit any undeposited tax. (If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return.) If you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time, you have until February 10 to file the return.
Employers - Nonpayroll taxes. File Form 945 to report income tax withheld for 2014 on all nonpayroll items, including backup withholding and withholding on pensions, annuities, IRAs, gambling winnings, and payments of Indian gaming profits to tribal members. Deposit any undeposited tax. (If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return.) If you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time, you have until February 10 to file the return.
Individuals - who must make estimated tax payments. If you did not pay your last installment of estimated tax by January 15, you may choose (but are not required) to file your income tax return (Form 1040) for 2014. Filing your return and paying any tax due by February 2, 2015 prevents any penalty for late payment of last installment.
Payers of Gambling Winnings - If you either paid reportable gambling winnings or withheld income tax from gambling winnings, give the winners their copies of Form W-2G.
Certain Small Employers - File Form 944 to report Social Security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2014. Deposit or pay any undeposited tax under the accuracy of deposit rules. If your tax liability is $2,500 or more from 2014 but less than $2,500 for the fourth quarter, deposit any undeposited tax or pay it in full with a timely filed return.
All businesses - Give annual information statements to recipients of certain payments you made during 2014. You can use the appropriate version of Form 1099 or other information return. Form 1099 can be issued electronically with the consent of the recipient.
Forms 1099-B, 1099-S, and certain reporting on Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, are due to recipients by February 17. Payments that may be covered include the following:
Employees - who work for tips. If you received $20 or more in tips during January, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.
Employers - Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. File Form 941 for the fourth quarter of 2014. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time.
Farm Employers - File Form 943 to report Social Security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2014. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time.
Certain Small Employers - File Form 944 to report Social Security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2014. This tax due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time.
Employers - Nonpayroll taxes. File Form 945 to report income tax withheld for 2014 on all nonpayroll items. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time.
Employers - Federal unemployment tax. File Form 940 for 2014. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time.
Employers - Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in January.
Employers - Nonpayroll withholding. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in January.
Individuals - If you claimed exemption from income tax withholding last year on the Form W-4 you gave your employer, you must file a new Form W-4 by this date to continue your exemption for another year.
All businesses. Give annual information statements to recipients if certain payments you made during 2014. You can use the appropriate version of Form 1099 or other information return. Form 1099 can be issued electronically with the consent of the recipient. This due date applies only to the following types of payments.
Employers - Begin withholding income tax from the pay of any employee who claimed exemption from withholding in 2014, but did not give you a new Form W-4 to continue the exemption this year.
Businesses - File information returns (Form 1099) for certain payments you made during 2014. These payments are described under February 2. There are different forms for different types of payments. Use a separate Form 1096 to summarize and transmit the forms for each type of payment. See the 2014 Instructions for Forms 1099, 1098, 5498, and W-2G for information on what payments are covered, how much the payment must be before a return is required, what form to use, and extensions of time to file.
If you file Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, or W-2G electronically (not by magnetic media), your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms is still February 2.
Farmers and Fishermen - Farmers and fishermen. File your 2014 income tax return (Form 1040) and pay any tax due. However, you have until April 15 to file if you paid your 2014 estimated tax by January 15, 2015.
Payers of Gambling Winnings - File Form 1096, Annual Summary and Transmittal of U.S. Information Returns, along with Copy A of all the Forms W-2G you issued for 2014. If you file Forms W-2G electronically (not by magnetic tape), your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms remains February 2.
Employers - File Form W-3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, along with Copy A of all the Forms W-2 you issued for 2014.
If you file Forms W-2 electronically (not by magnetic media), your due date for filing them with the SSA will be extended to March 31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms is still February 2.
Employers - with employees who work for tips. File Form 8027, Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips. Use Form 8027-T, Transmittal of Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips, to summarize and transmit Forms 8027 if you have more than one establishment. If you file Forms 8027 electronically (not by magnetic tape), your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31.
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