Starting in April 2015, individuals and families who file U.S. income taxes will have to provide information about their health insurance coverage to the IRS. Those individuals who do not have health insurance and do not qualify for an exemption will have to pay a tax penalty under the Affordable Care Act’s shared responsibility provision (more commonly known as the individual mandate). For tax year 2014, the penalty is $95/person or 1% of household income above the tax filing threshold, whichever amount is greater.
Although tax season is several months away, it’s important to start educating communities about the intersection between taxes and the ACA. With that in mind, the IRS recently unveiled Spanish-language webpages dedicated to the ACA’s tax provisions. These webpages include information about eligibility for the advanced premium tax credit, the individual mandate, and eligibility for exemptions. While mostly text, there are also YouTube videos that answer basic questions about advanced premium tax credits and the individual mandate. These webpages and videos can be found on the IRS website.
Of course, filing federal income tax returns is not easy. In 2015, tax filers will have to fill out additional forms that detail health insurance coverage, the provision of tax credits (if the filer received tax credits to lower the cost of health insurance), and any claimed exemptions (if applicable). Due to a lack of access to tax preparers, farmworkers and their families will rely on community-based organizations to navigate the tax filing process.
Farmworker Justice developed fact sheets in Spanish and English for farmworkers and their families on the Affordable Care Act, including the health insurance requirement. To supplement IRS resources, we will be working with advocates on the ground in the coming months to develop tax-specific resources that address the unique needs of farmworker communities. We also plan to host a webinar devoted to the issues of taxes and the ACA in March 2015.
Farmworkers have rights and responsibilities under the Affordable Care Act. Farmworker Justice will continue to work with advocates across the country to ensure that farmworkers have the tools they need to comply with the ACA’s requirements.