5 tips for tax filers before the deadline

Tax Day this year is Monday, April 18. If you have employer coverage or coverage through Medicare or Medicaid, you just need to check a box when you file taxes to indicate you had coverage for 2015.

But if you had a health plan through Maryland Health Connection in 2015, received tax credits, or didn’t have health coverage at all, here are a few points to keep in mind:

1) Some people aren’t required to have health coverage.
You don’t have to pay the fee (or “penalty”) for not having health coverage if you can claim a health insurance “exemption” because of a special situation such as you:

  • Didn’t have any affordable health insurance plans available to you (you may need to use this worksheet)
  • Had only a short gap without coverage (one or two months in the year)
  • Are a member of an Indian tribe
  • Experienced a hardship such as homelessness or domestic violence

You can claim an exemption on your federal tax return using IRS Form 8965.

To see if you may be eligible, check out this exemption tool available through HealthCare.gov, or see a full list of exemptions and how to claim them.

2) If you received a tax credit in 2015, you must file taxes, even if you wouldn’t otherwise be required to file.
If you received tax credits through Maryland Health Connection, you should have received a Form 1095-A (you can find it in your online account inbox). You’ll use the information from this form to complete IRS Form 8962.

You can also use this worksheet to complete Form 8962 if your Form 1095-A Part III is empty, incomplete or incorrect; or if there was a change in your household that you didn’t report to Maryland Health Connection.

3) If you were eligible for a tax credit in 2015, you may receive additional credit (or pay some back) when you file.

  • If you TOOK LESS advance payments of the premium tax credit than the actual credit for which you or your household are eligible, you’ll get the difference as a credit on your tax return.
  • If you DIDN’T TAKE ANY advance payments of the premium tax credit during 2015, when you complete Form 8962 you may find out that you qualify for a credit. If you do, you can claim it when you file your taxes.
  • If you TOOK MORE advance payments of the premium tax credit than the actual credit for which you or your household are eligible, you may need to pay some or all of the difference to the IRS with your federal tax return. In most cases, the IRS limits how much you have to pay back.

4) The penalty or fee for not having health coverage is increasing.
The fee for not having minimum essential coverage in 2015 increased to 2 percent of household income or $325 per person for people who didn’t have an exemption from the requirement. The fee increases for 2016, to $695 per person or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is higher.

You can use this tool to estimate your fee.

5) It’s not too late to get covered!
If you qualify for Medicaid or the Maryland Children’s Health Program (MCHP), you can enroll year-round in these programs at MarylandHealthConnection.gov for free or lower cost health coverage. Enrolling now will reduce the penalty you may pay for 2016, if you don’t qualify for an exemption.

Also, you can still enroll for 2016 coverage if you’ve had a qualifying event like getting married, having a baby, or moving to Maryland. Learn more here about what events may qualify and how to enroll.

If you want to get covered for 2017 and avoid next year’s penalty, Open Enrollment starts this fall at MarylandHealthConnection.gov.