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Meet Your New Tax-Season Headache: Obamacare

January 20, 2015

Today marks the official start of tax season, the annual – and frustrating – American tradition of sorting through a long and complicated tax code to figure out what you owe to Uncle Sam.

And this year will be even worse — thanks to Obamacare. As Bloomberg reports, not only will every taxpayer need to determine whether they satisfy the individual-mandate requirements, but also “[m]illions who received insurance through Obamacare’s exchanges will have a more complicated set of calculations to complete.”

Many families are in for a rude awakening – They may actually owe money back to the government to repay their Obamacare subsidies if they earned more than originally estimated. And many others will have to pay an Obamacare individual-mandate tax.

One leading accountant tells Bloomberg, “People are going to absolutely be blindsided. . . . It can take someone from getting a refund to owing money.”

But even figuring out what you owe is going to be a much bigger chore than taxpayers are used to.

If you receive Obamacare subsidies, say goodbye to that short 1040-EZ form and say hello to your new stack of IRS forms and worksheets. It’s so bad that one tax-preparation service had to create a new section on its website just to explain all of Obamacare’s new rules.

But let’s dig into this a bit further.

Filing Your Return

First, all taxpayers will find a new entry – line 61 for Form 1040 – on their return, asking whether they had government-approved health care – or “minimum essential coverage for every month of 2014.”

If not, a taxpayer will either have to pay a tax penalty – a flat fee or a percentage of income, whichever is higher – or file for an exemption from the mandate. Enter IRS Form 8965.

This is the form with which you can claim an exemption from the individual mandate – month by month, for every person in the household, and by entering a code with the specific exemption being claimed in each case.

If you don’t qualify for an exemption, in the separate 12-page instructions, there’s a handy “shared responsibility payment worksheet.” Translation: Use this to calculate how much the individual-mandate tax will be.

But say a person did have “minimum essential coverage” – and was one of the millions of Americans who received Obamacare subsidies – these taxpayers get their own new paperwork. Meet IRS Forms 1095-A and 8962.

Form 1095-A will come from the Obamacare “exchange” (hopefully on time and containing accurate information) with a month-by-month breakdown for everyone in the household receiving coverage and the amount of premiums, the monthly premium for the second-lowest-cost silver plan in their area, and the monthly advance payment of premium tax credit. Got that?

Good, because the taxpayer will need it to fill out IRS Form 8962 – Premium Tax Credit. This gem is what you use to calculate how much of a subsidy you got, compared to how much you were supposed to. As you can see, the “monthly calculation” section of the form includes an impressive 72 boxes to fill out.

After transferring information from Form 1095-A into Form 8962 and doing all the calculations through line 27, the taxpayer is then able to see if they require “repayment of excess advance payment of the premium tax credit.” Then, in Part 4, you can enter “shared policy allocations” and an “alternative calculation for year of marriage” in Part 5.

Don’t worry, if this intimidating, there’s a separate 15-page instruction packet for Form 8962.

Only after sorting through Forms 8965, 1095-A, and 8962 (and all the instructions and worksheets), can the taxpayer return to their Form 1040 to reconcile – on lines 46 and 69 – what they owe or are owed from the government.

This convoluted process is just the latest nasty surprise from Obamacare – and all the more reason to repeal the law and replace it with patient-centered reforms.


By Brendan Buck