Accountants now educating tax filers on Affordable Care Act penalties

MGN Online
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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) - Tuesday was the deadline to file income taxes. But next year, many people hoping to get a big refund, could see a penalty instead.

With the Affordable Care Act in place, people who don't have insurance for three months or more will have to pay a fine when filing their taxes next year. Accountants said they're not looking forward to being the bearers of bad news.

For Altoona financial planner and tax accountant Glen Johnson and his staff, Apr. 15 is a day to help droves of procrastinators file their taxes with the deadline just hours away.

“Usually every year, we always have somewhat of rush at the end, but it's just a matter of getting it done for them,” Johnson said.

But this season, he has yet another responsibility, teaching clients about the Affordable Care Act, and the penalties it brings.

“There was a lot of seminars and conferences we attended last year just because of the affordable care act and there's a lot of different rules out there.”

Johnson said he often has good news about refunds, but he says there will be some people next year expecting a check and instead, getting a fine.

“We're going to have to be the messengers and that's probably not always going to be pleasant.” “A lot of the general public are just starting to become aware of some of the effects and impacts that this law has. They are very surprised at the sometimes negative impacts that it does have on clients.”

Anyone without healthcare for three months or more will be fined $95 or one percent of their income, whichever is more, and that penalty will increase each year.

“A lot of people are saying 'I’m not going to get insurance because the insurance will cost more than the actual penalty.’ So a lot of younger people are saying, just not going to do it,” Johnson said.

The extension of the Affordable Care Act deadline was scheduled to end Tuesday at 11:00 p.m. for those who tried to apply before Mar. 31.

Statewide reports said about 71,000 people signed up for the marketplace as of last month, and Security Health says they had about 3,600 sign up in Chippewa and Eau Claire counties combined, earlier this month, according to Marty Anderson with Security Health.

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