Will you owe Uncle Sam for healthcare tax credit?

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Open enrollment kicks off November 15th for 2015 coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Meanwhile, the IRS began notifying taxpayers recently who had discrepancies on previous returns.  This could be related to reported income versus what an employer submitted.

Such notifications will also go to taxpayers who owe money back to the government from their health care tax credit.

Joseph Ballard and his wife are City of Memphis retirees.  When insurance premiums began to increase, they decided to sign up for insurance through the Marketplace.

"I went through healthcare.gov and I turned around and did everything step by step."

Shortly afterwards, Ballard's wife took on a part time job.

Someone from the Marketplace contacted him to make sure the change in income was properly reflected.

Ballard says the change would mean a small difference in the subsidy they were getting every month, which was no problem.

Except somehow, his policy got canceled all together.

"When they turn around and they did the adjustment, they didn't tell me that they were going to cancel the insurance, all they told me was that we were going to have to pay the difference," said Ballard.

Ballard's policy was re-instated, but he's still disputing charges from about two weeks when he says he didn't have coverage at all.

A spokesperson from Health and Human Services told WREG Ballard's policy was mistakenly terminated due to  miscommunication between the Marketplace and the carrier.

Aaron Albright of HHS said by email, "...Rather than the plan being updated, it was terminated then reinstated with the update once the issue was discovered.  We do not believe these consumers experienced any gap in coverage because of this, and we are continually working to enhance this process."

Meanwhile, both the IRS and HHS encourage consumers to report life changes as soon as possible.

That's because the tax credit consumers get for buying coverage is based on income.

"How much money the government gives you is determined early in the year and you anticipate what you're going to make in 2014, this year," explains Church Health Center CEO Dr. Scott Morris of how the credit works.

The credit is paid directly to the insurance company and therefore reduces the consumer's monthly premium.  However, taxpayers also have the option of getting the credit at the end of the year when they file their taxes.

When taxpayers elect to accept the credit in advance and their incomes goes up or down, so too does the subsidy and the difference will have to be paid back at tax time.

Regardless, Dr. Morris says there are thousands of Memphians who could benefit from the Affordable Care Act and they shouldn't let worries about Uncle Sam get in the way.

"We don't want people scared because there could be a possibility of a true up at the end of the year, all that means is people ought to pay what is actually fair."

Ballard also says he was pleased to get less expensive coverage through the Marketplace. "It's a great program, but there's a lot of still bugs that need to be taken out of the program to make it a lot easier for the people to understand it."

To find out more about reporting life changes to the Marketplace call 1-800-318-2596, or read the information here.  The IRS also has information on its website here.

1 Comment

  • Lifelong Memphian

    So, a couple City of Memphis retirees who are fnding that the ACA is working fairly for them as a replacement for City benefits?

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