PARSIPPANY, N.J., Dec. 26 (UPI) -- For taxpayers who missed the Dec. 24 deadline for health insurance or may be confused by their options, Jackson Hewitt says it can help its U.S. customers.
Jackson Hewitt said it will help customers understand their new options under the Affordable Care Act at the time of tax preparation.
Brian Haile, senior vice president for Health Care Policy, Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc., said for those looking to have coverage effective at the next available window -- buy health insurance in January to be effective Feb. 1 -- will want to swing by their nearest Jackson Hewitt location right after the new year. Some customers who are eligible for Medicaid may even qualify for coverage retroactive to Jan. 1, 2014.
The first time most families have available cash is when they receive their tax refund during the tax filing season and the refund amounts are considerable: for the 2011 tax year, the average federal refund for families with incomes $15,000 to $50,000 exceeded $2,800, Haile said.
Indeed, the federal tax refund represents the largest single "paycheck" that most U.S. families receive during the year and it is precisely these families that the ACA is intended to benefit, Haile said.
"We know that many taxpayers have had trouble signing up for coverage," Haile said in a statement. "We can help our paid tax prep customers with the government process for no additional fee."
For taxpayers who are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP, Jackson Hewitt will help complete the necessary application forms to apply for coverage, as well.
For those uninsured and who qualify for tax credits, Jackson Hewitt makes it easy to figure out if they may be eligible for a tax credit to help pay for health coverage, Haile added.
Jackson Hewitt reminds taxpayers:
-- Taxes and healthcare are connected. What people qualify for under the ACA depends on how much money they make and how many people they have in their family.
-- Insurance coverage may be free for some eligible customers. For other taxpayers the cost of insurance will depend on their age, where they live and if they smoke or not. Taxpayers might also qualify for a big tax credit to help pay for insurance. Coverage under Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program is generally free.
-- People may be charged a tax penalty if they don't have health insurance in 2014. Even having one uninsured person in your tax household can be enough to trigger a penalty for the whole family. In the first year that penalty will generally be almost 1 percent of the household income.
Consistent with state law, Jackson Hewitt does not provide advice about the selection of qualified health plans and referred such queries to a properly-licensed third-party or to the insurance marketplace, the company said.