Maybe it was unfair that many people who owe fees to the federal government for not having health insurance in 2014 only are finding out now when they are filing tax returns. This is putting tax preparers in the uncomfortable position of giving out the bad news because that fee, a minimum of $95, is coming out of tax refunds.
These same tax preparers might want to avoid an even bigger problem with their clients next year when the minimum penalty fee will be $325 for not having health insurance in 2015. They can do this by knowing about the Special Enrollment Period for the Health Insurance Marketplace that is going on now until April 30th.
Tax preparers should start educating their clients and suggesting that those likely to be without health insurance this year should take advantage of this last chance opportunity to enroll in a health insurance plan through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace. They might even find that, after qualifying for premium assistance, they might end up paying annually approximately the same as the $325 penalty fee.
In South Carolina here are the eligibility requirements for residents for this Special Enrollment Period:
1) Not have been aware of the ACA requirement to maintain minimum essential coverage until after February 15, 2015 (the end of the 2015 Open Enrollment Period) or have not understood the meaning of that requirement;
2) Be subject to the individual shared responsibility payment (penalty fee) on their 2014 taxes; and
3) Not be enrolled in 2015 coverage through the Marketplace (or have other minimum essential coverage).
So tax preparers…protect yourself from angry clients next year. Educate them this year and tell them to call the Palmetto Project for more information at 888-998-4646. Or they can go to HealthCare.gov.