Boston - Health Care For All, the Massachusetts Health Connector, MassHealth, and the Boston Tax Help Coalition held a joint press conference today to share important information for health care consumers in regards to tax filing. Consumers have until April 15th 2016 to file their income tax return and they have to include information about their health insurance status during 2015.
"Federal and state law now require that all adults and children have health insurance coverage throughout the year. Plans must cover significant services such as doctor visits, hospitalizations and prescription drugs, and cannot discriminate against you or your family or charge you more because you are sick or have a preexisting condition," said Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, Executive Director of Health Care For All.
If you or your family lacked health coverage for all or part of 2015, you may have to pay penalties when you file your taxes. The penalty for not having health coverage in 2015 is $325 per adult and $162.50 per child, or about 2% of household income, whichever is greater. The penalty for going without insurance for 2016 will go up to $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, or about 2.5% of household income. Consumers may receive an exemption, and avoid a penalty when they file taxes, if they experienced a hardship, or other accepted reason for not having health insurance coverage.
This will be the first year that most Health Connector health plan members received tax credits to help them to pay for their Health Connector health care coverage. Any person who got Tax Credits through the Health Connector must file their 2015 taxes, even if they are under the tax filing threshold.
"Members must file their taxes to keep their help paying for coverage, so it is important that people who have Health Connector coverage, particularly those who receive tax credits and ConnectorCare coverage, comply with tax filing requirements," said Louis Gutierrez, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Health Connector. "We know this is a new experience for many people, and we encourage those with corrections to their forms to call us immediately, and seek out advice from experienced, professional tax preparers if they have questions about their forms."
The Health Connector website has resources to help members file their taxes at www.MAhealthconnector.org/taxes.
If a member changed the insurance plan or had multiple insurances throughout 2015, they will receive forms for each type of coverage, including MassHealth and other health plans.
"We are pleased to be working with Health Care For All, the Health Connector and VITA to get this important tax information out to our members who are receiving new federal forms for the first time this year under the Affordable Care Act. It is important for people to understand that most MassHealth coverage counts as health insurance for tax purposes. We have been working closely with our partners at the Health Connector and elsewhere to get the word out that in order to avoid paying a penalty, MassHealth members need to report their coverage information on their taxes," said Robin Callahan, Medicaid Deputy Director.
If you have questions about which health care forms you need for your tax return or if you need to file taxes, you can ask your tax preparer. Many people can get free tax help from programs such as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE). Search online for VITA and TCE locations near you, or call the IRS hotline at 800-906-9887.
"The Roxbury Center for Financial Empowerment provides a vibrant and welcoming VITA tax site in Boston where consumers with incomes under 400% of the Federal Poverty Level can access free help to file their taxes. We have the expertise to assist consumers to understand if they have to file taxes based on their health insurance status and which document and information they need to complete their tax return. Please call us today to find a time for you to receive free help filing your taxes," said Alan Gentle, manager of the Roxbury Center for Financial Empowerment, who has been a VITA site coordinator for over a decade.
If you are uninsured and need health coverage, you can apply for coverage throughout the year at www.MAhealthconnector.org or call Health Care For All's HelpLine at 800-272-4232 (Help available in English, Spanish and Portuguese).