KANSAS CITY, MO -- (Marketwire) -- 02/15/13 -- H&R Block (NYSE: HRB) -- The Affordable Care Act (ACA) not only includes the most significant health care reform in decades, but also some of the largest changes to the tax code, creating many unique and unprecedented issues for taxpayers and the uninsured.
To help identify what policymakers, state administrators, small business owners and taxpayers should understand about how the new health care law affects them, The Tax Institute at H&R Block is embarking on a multi-city tour with Bloomberg Government. The tour will bring together thought-leaders from the government, private sector, not-for-profit groups and academia to talk about challenges and opportunities facing taxpayers who will navigate the new system. Kicking off in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 15, the tour will also travel to Florida, California and Illinois.
"Based on a survey we conducted last fall with ORC International, we discovered 3 out of 4 taxpayers don't know what it takes to become eligible for health insurance under the new law, including that it can start with the tax return they will file this year," said Kathy Pickering, executive director of The Tax Institute at H&R Block. "We want to foster a conversation that sheds light on what can be done to help taxpayers, and the uninsured, better understand what they'll face during open enrollment this fall and how to educate them on their health care obligations and choices."
The Tax Institute survey also found that 44 percent of respondents age 18-34 were not aware of a possible tax penalty if they do not have health insurance.
"Understanding your eligibility for health care benefits is important when making decisions on whether to enroll in a health care marketplace exchange," Pickering said. "Educating consumers about the tax implications of their health care choices is important to ensure they get the maximum they're entitled to receive."
Beyond the immediate tax implications for consumers, the tour will bring together the decision makers responsible for helping the millions of uninsured consumers gain access to health insurance information and enrollment assistance. They will examine questions of how government agencies can partner with the private sector to educate consumers and small businesses, an important step in understanding what consumers will face during the first year of health care reform implementation.
Tax and Health Care Review first step in consumer education
"In addition to feedback our millions of clients provide during their personalized, free Tax and Health Care Review this tax season, this tour will provide great insight into how this law affects taxpayers in the real world," said Meg Sutton, senior advisor for tax and health care services at H&R Block.
The personalized review provides the taxpayer with information showing if they qualify for a subsidy and how much they can expect to pay out-of-pocket for the monthly premium. In addition, it will detail the possible penalty they would pay if they do not obtain health insurance.
Just who may qualify for a subsidy could surprise some taxpayers. For example:
Take a test drive through health care reform
H&R Block also launched a website -- www.hrblock.com/healthcare -- to provide another avenue for education. The site is designed to provide consumers the basics of the law and provide real-life examples of the impact on various taxpayers. Taxpayers also can visit the website to access a calculator that can help them determine if they would be eligible for a subsidy.
"The Affordable Care Act has changed how we manage health care in this country, and it's changed the way we'll do our taxes," Pickering said. "What's important now is that we need to help consumers understand the intersections between the ACA and taxes and where to go for help."
For more information about how the health care reform act affects the tax return, contact a local H&R Block tax professional. To find the nearest H&R Block office, visit www.hrblock.com or call 800-HRBLOCK.
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About The Tax Institute at H&R Block
The Tax Institute at H&R Block is the go-to source for objective insights on federal and state tax laws affecting the individual. It provides nonpartisan information and analysis on the real world implications of tax policies and proposals to policymakers, journalists, experts and tax preparers. The Institute's experts include CPAs, Enrolled Agents, tax attorneys and former IRS agents. Building off more than 10 years of research and analysis from a specialized tax research group at H&R Block, the company launched The Tax Institute in 2007.
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