The IRS threw open the doors Tuesday, kicking off the tax season 2015 for individual filers. The IRS’s Modernized e-File system began accepting individual tax returns on the 20th of this month. The IRS began accepting business returns on the 9th. While IRS commissioner John Koskinen said he was “delighted that the filing season is opening on schedule” a number of hurdles still remain.
Congress, smarting from the IRS targeting controversy, cut the IRS budget again this year. As a result, the IRS is encouraging tax payers to efile this year, as paper filed returns could see up to a week delay in receiving refunds. In addition, taxpayers will find longer waits on live help lines, as will tax professionals who saw the hours reduced on the e-help desk service. To avoid wait times, the IRS suggests taxpayers use online services to answer questions and find forms. Besides FAQ’s and forms, online services include “Wheres my refund?”, status of amended returns and Pub 5187 which cover the Individual Shared Responsibility of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Along with dealing with five years of budget constraints, the IRS must implement the tax changes surrounding the Affordable Care Act. For the vast majority of individual taxpayers it’s as simple as checking box 61 on their Form 1040 indicating they had qualifying health care coverage for the full year, but for those that where not covered for all or part of the year by a qualified plan and those that received advanced payments for their health insurance premiums from a state or Federal Health Insurance Marketplace it’s not as easy. The IRS has introduced two new forms to deal with these situations: Form 8965 – Health Coverage Exemptions and Form 8962 – Premium Tax Credit (PTC). The IRS includes instructions with these forms, but the ACA has complicated filing requirements, forcing the average taxpayer to look for assistance from an already under staffed IRS help line.
Taxpayers have until Wednesday, April 15th to file their 2014 individual tax returns and pay any taxes that are due. I suggest if you are unsure how the ACA affects you that you don’t wait until the last minute to prepare your 2014 individual tax return.