First Tax Season Under Obamacare Comes With Uncertainty and Learning Experiences For Taxpayers
As many political analysts expected, the ACA didn’t spell certain doom or absolute victory for a significant population of taxpayers. What it will do, however, is deliver a serious surprise to those who haven’t done their homework.
For those like Ellen Goldlust, the surprise was more than welcome.
In Goldlust’s own words, the ACA gave her a tax refund that made her feel as if she had won the lottery.
After she failed to really get a handle of doing her taxes on her own, she gathered up her paperwork and took it to a “friend’s tax guy.”
“He redid my taxes for me and I ended up with a $3,900 refund,” she told NPR. “It was about twice what I thought I was getting.”
That’s the good news that roughly 45 percent of Americans will get this tax season, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The study found that many Americans will end up with significantly larger tax refunds than they expected if they got their health insurance through the ACA.
Other Americans won’t be as lucky as Goldlust.
Cynthia Cox, a senior policy analyst with the Kaiser Family Foundation explained that Goldlust’s large refund was the result of her not taking her full subsidy each month.
It’s a move that may not turn out so well for everyone.
“But that leaves them no cushion to absorb reductions in the amount of their subsidy if their income rises or they have a change in family status,” NPR reports. “So, Cox says, they could have a nasty surprise.”
That nasty surprise comes in the form of getting a bill from the IRS up to $800 greater than they may have expected.
“Roughly half of households who qualified for subsidies last year could owe some or all of that back to the government when they file their taxes,” Cox added.
Life-changing events can also cause a major spike on how much Americans will be paying back to the IRS.
Jody Cedzidlo got married back in 2014 and had no idea that it would come with such a hefty price tag as far as taxes were concerned.
“Even though we have the same two incomes, when you add them together, we’re not anywhere near eligible for the same subsides,” she told NPR.
This ultimately resulted in the IRS billing the newlyweds about $1,800.
“We just did not know any of this,” she added. “Our decision to get married—we didn’t realize we needed to research it financially. I just can’t believe what a big difference it made.”
There is some hope that the IRS won’t actually need nearly $2,000 from Cedzidlo and her new husband, however.
She explained that while the couple got married towards the end of 2014, the return showed that they had been married for the entire year.
Even if the IRS makes an adjustment, however, the couple will still be coming out of pocket at least $400 and maybe even more.
According to Cox, the only thing that’s certain about the first tax year under the ACA is that it will definitely serve as a “learning experience.”
Cox is urging taxpayers to consistently report any changes in income or family status to the HealthCare.gov website immediately throughout the year so they won’t be in store for any nasty surprises when tax season comes back around.