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K.A. Curtis gave up her career in the nonprofit world in 2008 to care for her ailing parents in Fresno, which also meant giving up her income.
She wasn’t able to afford health insurance as a result, and for each tax year since 2014, Curtis has applied for — and received —an exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s coverage requirement and the related tax penalty, she says.
This year, given President Donald Trump’s promise to repeal the ACA, along with his executive order urging federal officials to weaken parts of the law, Curtis began to wonder whether she’d even have to apply for an exemption for her 2016 taxes.
She also heard that the IRS recently flip-flopped on its previous decision to reject 2016 tax returns that don’t include the taxpayer’s health coverage status.
“I thought, ‘Maybe I won’t have to apply for the exemption again,’” says Curtis, 59. “The public debate about the law makes it confusing.”
Indeed, there’s widespread confusion among consumers about the status of Obamacare, and because of that, they are uncertain how to handle Obamacare-related tax requirements.
Since this article appeared the tax penalty has been overturned by the new White House resident, Donald Trump. And other features are being modified as this is being written.
Should you still submit your 1095 tax forms that show when you were covered — or, if you purchased a plan from an exchange, the amount of tax credits you received? Should you apply for an exemption from the Obamacare coverage requirement?
If you were uninsured in 2016 and don’t qualify for an exemption, should you pay the Obamacare tax penalty?
“Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths floating around,” says Lawrence Pon, a certified public accountant (CPA) in Redwood City. “Some of my clients ask me, ‘Does the law still exist?’”
It sure does.
As a result, California tax experts have some relatively simple advice for confused taxpayers.
“Until Obamacare is no longer the law of the land, we don’t have much choice other than to continue under the current rules and regulations,” says Janet Krochman, a CPA in Costa Mesa.
It is all open to argument and subject to change. Given this state of chaos I would recomend holding off filing, and wait for a comment or notice from the IRS. Recent events regarding the ACA have resulted in defacto postponements, or outright nullification of deadlines and other regulatory statement.
On the other hand, other experts make this recommendation.
Many tax preparers say they’d rather not deal with the law’s arcane and complex requirements. But every single one I spoke with says they will continue doing so as long as former President Barack Obama’s health law exists.
“I tell everybody I want all of their forms. We’re going to document everything,” says Rebecca Neilson, a registered tax preparer in Sheridan, about 40 miles northeast of Sacramento. “I’m not going to change what I’m doing because the law might get changed.”
However, a recent IRS switch has fueled hopes among some consumers that the agency won’t enforce the Obamacare tax penalty for 2016.