Thursday, March 30, 2017
Another brief break from my tax-season posting hiatus to comment on the recent attempt to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
The Republicans have proven that they are just as stupid as the Democrats. Obamacare is a mess because the Democrats wanted an early legislative victory for Obama and pushed through a truly flawed bill – actually without even reading the bill before voting for it.
And now the Republicans have followed the Democrat’s lead and rushed to present a flawed bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, merely to achieve an early victory for the idiot in the White House.
The fools should have worked in installments – first repealing the specific bad aspects of Obamacare (as listed below under THE BAD) without affecting current coverage. I doubt there would have been a problem repealing these items. Then they should have worked thoughtfully on an appropriate replacement for Obamacare, keeping the good items.
Actually the Republicans have had 7 years to come up with an appropriate replacement for Obamacare. More proof that the current members of Congress are idiots.
Here, in my opinion, is the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Obamacare.
The absolute best thing about Obamacare is the advance premium credit. It provides direct assistance to individuals not covered by employer plans who cannot afford the monthly cost of health insurance premiums.
Historically tax credits are always “after the fact” – you must wait until you file your tax return to get the benefits for the prior year. For example – for the education credits you must wait until February to April of 2017 to get federal tax aid for tuition paid as early as January of 2016.
With tuition, and more especially with health insurance premiums, you actually need the money provided by the tax credit at the “point of purchase” – when you must actually pay for the tuition or the premiums – and not a year later.
Another of the good things about Obamacare is the requirement that “pre-existing conditions” are covered.
There are many bad things about Obamacare.
1. The penalty for not having “adequate” health insurance coverage. Individuals should not be forced to purchase a certain degree of coverage by being financially penalized for not doing so. And employers should not be forced to provide health insurance for employees, and be financially penalized for not doing so. There should be no “shared responsibility penalty”.
2. The requirement that individuals must purchase health insurance through the official Obamacare Marketplace in order to get the advance premium credit. An individual who purchases qualifying health insurance directly from an insurance company, at probably a slightly lower premium, cannot get the needed premium assistance to which he or she would otherwise be entitled to based on income. This is totally unfair and unjust. Individuals should be allowed to purchase whatever is determined to be “adequate” insurance directly from whichever provider they choose, and then go to a government health care website to apply for the advance premium credit, which would be applied to reduce the monthly premium charge, or apply for the credit with the insurance company at the same time they apply for coverage.
3. The Obamcare NIIT and Medicare “surtaxes”. I firmly believe that taxing the “wealthy” simply because they can supposedly afford it is NOT the answer to every problem.
4. The various restrictions and penalties on certain types of employer health care benefits, such as the so-called “Cadillac plan” and health care reimbursement programs.
5. The other “nickel and diming” charges, surtaxes, and penalties used to fund Obamacare.
Truly the worst thing about Obamacare, and about the recent Republican replacement option, is age-weighted premiums. This is a new concept.
Under Obamacare health insurance premiums became much more expensive for older Americans, and cheaper for younger ones. I was told the reasoning behind this was to encourage young taxpayers just starting out to buy health insurance, and maintain coverage, by making it very inexpensive.
In reality it is the younger Americans, just starting out and without any family and mortgage expenses, who are, in many cases, more able to afford to pay for health insurance - while older Americans not yet eligible for Medicare coverage often find paying for insurance difficult, especially with substantially higher age-based premiums.
The calculation of premiums should return to the way it was done before Obamacare, with older Americans not unfairly and improperly excessively charged.
I hope that the idiots in Congress will actually do something about fixing THE BAD and THE UGLY of Obamacare at some point this year.
So – your thoughts?
Back to the 1040s!
Monday, March 27, 2017
A recent post from Russ Fox at TAXABLE TALK provides an important message that bears constant repeating. The post title tells it all – “Do Not Blindly Pay IRS Notices, Reason-”.
To repeat Russ’s important message -
“Do not assume an IRS notice is correct. Most are not. If you blindly pay it, you have agreed to the tax.”
If you receive any correspondence from any federal or state tax agency about a tax return give it to your tax preparer immediately!
OK, back to the 1040s!
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Just wanted to pass along this information from the National Association of Tax Professionals -
“Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Granted Extension Relief
The IRS has granted businesses affected by this week’s severe winter storm additional time to request a six-month extension to file their 2016 federal income tax returns. The IRS is providing this relief to victims and tax professionals affected by this week’s storm (known as Winter Storm Stella) that hit portions of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.
Business taxpayers who are unable to file their tax return by today’s due date (March 15, 2017) can request an automatic extension by filing Form 7004 on or before March 20, 2017. Form 7004 provides a six-month extension for returns filed by partnerships (Forms 1065 and 1065B) and S corporations (Forms 1120S).
Eligible taxpayers taking advantage of this relief should write “Winter Storm Stella” on their Form 7004 extension request (if filing Form 7004 by paper).”
Saturday, March 11, 2017
The 2017 Tax Filing Season (February 1 through April 18) is now half over!
I have completed and put in the mail 116 sets of returns during the first half of the season. Given I completed 229 returns before calling it quits on April 17 last year I have done slightly more than half that number already. And the 2nd half actually has a little more work time (despite losing an hour this Saturday night) – since I will have less days “on the road”.
Although the IRS has announced that actual returns filed are down from last year at this time – that is certainly not the case with me. I
have only a handful of “red files” (need more info) and only a handful of returns received in February to complete. And the “to be done” box is not as full as it usually is at this time.
Cash payments are also slightly up from the same time last year.
So all is going smoothly – and hopefully it will remain smooth and I can end the season with a minimum amount of GD extensions!
Talk to you again on April 1st.
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
One month down – one and a half to go!
I am ahead of last year (in completing returns, but, unfortunately, not in fee collections). I have completed 90 sets of returns during the first month of the tax season - more than completed the same time last year! Many of the returns I completed in late March and early April last season have already been done.
I have either heard from, made arrangements with, or completed the returns of over half of my client mailing list.
The “to be done” box is not as full as it usually is this time of the season. And I have only 3 “red-files” (need more information).
I have been “behind closed doors” Monday and Tuesday (and, of course, today, as it is Wednesday), with the phone turned off. It has been wonderful, but I guess I will have to plug the phone back in on Thursday morning.
There have been no problems to deal with, neither with computer and equipment issues, the weather, or actual tax return issues.
Let’s hope the season continues to run smoothly – and I can end the season with minimal GD extensions!
I will check in with you again after March 15th.