By: Jim Butcher | Category: Financial Services | Issue: January 2016
The staff of H&R Block in Claremore stands ready to welcome you and discuss in detail your 2015 income tax returns. (Back row, L to R): Don Capps, Marilyn Davis, Bob Brun, franchise owner, Henry Harrison, Robert Capps, Jerry Carrier, (Front row) Wilma Benefield, Mary Kranig, Pam Clark, Pam Ziriax and Dawn Lund.
Tax time is approaching, but you can breathe easy. Changes to filing your 2015 tax return should be minor in relation to 2014’s regulations. Bob Brun, franchise owner of H&R Block in Owasso and Claremore and certified public accountant, explains that the expansion of 2015 reporting requirements is primarily due to changes in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as “Obamacare.”
“Additional mandates will require more people to include information about the health care insurance they carried for themselves and their families,” he adds. Last year, only those individuals who acquired health insurance through the federal or state market places received a Form 1095-A. It was necessary for them to reconcile their adjusted household income to the amounts identified on this form.
This year, in addition to the market place insured participants, individuals covered by employer qualified health care plans or individuals who acquire their health care insurance plans from a private health care insurer will receive a Form 1095-B or a 1095-C, respectively.
“If you receive any of the 1095 Forms, A, B, or C, it is an IRS requirement for filing your 2015 return,” says Bob. “Those who did not obtain health care insurance during 2015 will be required to file a return to demonstrate if they may qualify for any of the available hardship or statutory exemptions. The number of exemptions available in 2015 has increased over those in 2014.”
The 2015 penalty for not having health care insurance for any member of the household has significantly increased over the 2014 penalty amounts. The ACA regulations identify the 2015 penalty as “the greater of 2 percent of the modified household income or the sum of $325 for each adult and $162.50 for each dependent claimed on the return. In 2016, this penalty will increase from 2 to 3 percent of modified adjusted household income and from $325 to $650 per adult and from $162.50 to $325 per child.”
For those individuals who received a form 1095-A and either failed to include it as part of their tax return or failed to file a tax return, the IRS is issuing non-compliance letters.
Another issue, as reported by the IRS, is the significant increase in Taxpayer Identity Theft. This problem relates to the fraudulent preparation and filing of income tax returns by individuals using another taxpayer’s name and social security number, and possibly that of their dependents, to claim a refund for that year prior to the real taxpayer filing their own return. This impairs the true taxpayer in filing their return and additional steps are required. It could delay the processing of the return and refund.
Tax Identity Theft is not covered by regular tax identity protection services in that they cannot monitor IRS tax filings. In 2014, H&R Block started a program to assist taxpayers who have been victimized by Taxpayer Identity Theft. H&R Block, along with other tax preparation providers, the IRS and state taxing authorities, have been developing methods to combat this crime. This year the IRS and state tax commissions will be including various methods of challenging expected returns before releasing the claimed refunds.
H&R Block’s business philosophy is to insure that the taxpayer receives the maximum refund possible or minimize the amount of tax due in accordance with U.S. and State Tax Codes.
Bob Brun owns and operates the Claremore office of H&R Block, and in partnership with Pat Etzkorn, owns and operates the Owasso franchise. The Owasso and Claremore offices of H&R Block are open year-round, with services available by appointment, walk-ins or drop-offs.
Jim Butcher is a retired, award-winning newspaperman who continues to write as a freelance writer and photographer. He owned the Tulsa Front Page weekly and was executive editor to Neighbor Newspapers' 13 metro newspapers. Currently, he writes for Value News and has become a paid assignment screenwriter, along with a University of Oklahoma professor who wrote Brad Pitt's first feature film. His award-winning screenplay is on the historical Osage Indian Murders of the 1920s.
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