Refund (Tax) Season 2016 is Here!

January 08, 2016 : H&R Block

H&R Block shares what impact fraud, health care have on tax returns

Some call it tax season, but at H&R Block it’s refund season and it has already started. H&R Block offices are open and ready to help taxpayers navigate refund season 2016. In addition to understanding how their major life changes – things like getting married, having a baby and buying a house – can impact their taxes, taxpayers have other things to consider. This year, two of the other top considerations are protecting themselves from identity theft and knowing that not having health care coverage can result in hefty tax penalties.

Fraud is a growing concern and likely could get worse this tax season

The IRS starts accepting tax returns Jan. 19, but there are many advantages to filing returns as soon as taxpayers can. One of the advantages is that early filing is one of the best ways to fight tax refund fraud, which results from identity theft.

Tax identity theft occurs when criminals use personal identity information to file a fraudulent tax return and steal taxpayer refunds. Among the challenges for identity theft victims are that they can lose access to the refund they are due for approximately 120 days and have to take multiple steps with the IRS to file a completed tax return.

As part of its efforts to encourage taxpayers to file early, H&R Block is giving away $1,000 to 1,000 people for 32 days. Anyone who does their taxes at an H&R Block office is entered in the drawing to be a winner in the H&R Block 1,000 Win $1,000 Daily Sweepstakes. After entering the drawing, entrants can win any time until Feb. 15; the sooner they enter, the more chances they will have to win.

Not having health care coverage could result in owing penalties

For tax year 2015, the tax penalty for an uncovered family of four earning $60,000 will be around $975. For 2014, their penalty would have been around $400.

For 2016, penalties for being without health insurance will increase for the second year in a row. Taxpayers will have to pay a tax penalty of $695 per uncovered adult plus $347.50 per uncovered child up to a maximum of $2,085, or 2.5 percent of their household income over the filing threshold, whichever is greater. That means a family of four earning $60,000 would pay a penalty of more than $2,000. Some taxpayers who don’t have insurance can avoid the penalties if they qualify and apply for an exemption.

The deadline to enroll in the federal or state marketplace for 2016 coverage is Jan. 31. After open enrollment ends, taxpayers can’t enroll for health insurance on the marketplace unless they qualify for a special enrollment period. Generally, these are available after life changes, such as having a change in family status, moving to a new coverage area, or losing non-marketplace health insurance.

Whether taxpayers are visiting a health care marketplace for the first time or re-enrolling, they can receive free assistance from licensed health care advisors through H&R Block’s partnership with GoHealth.

There is some good news this tax season: H&R Block tax offices are open and our tax professionals are ready to help taxpayers file an accurate tax return and get their maximum refund. Because, after all, it’s refund season.

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