Health Insurance

How to handle a gap in health care coverage

Posted on May 9, 2018

Health care coverage gaps happen. Whether because of job loss or an extended sabbatical between gigs, you may find yourself without health care for a period. Here are some tax consequences you should know about, as well as tips to fix a coverage gap. Coverage gap tax issues You will have to pay a penalty in 2018 if you don’t have health care coverage for three consecutive months or more. Last year the annual penalty was equal to 2.5 percent of your household income, or $695 per adult (and $347.50 per child), whichever was higher. The 2018 amounts will be slightly higher to adjust for inflation. Example: Susan lost her job-based health insurance on Dec. 31, 2016, and applied for a plan through her state’s insurance marketplace program on Feb. 15, 2017, which went into effect on April 1, 2017. Because she was without coverage for three months, she owes a fourth of the penalty on her 2017 tax return (three of 12 months uncovered, or 1/4 of the year). While the penalty is still in place for tax years 2018 and earlier, it is eliminated starting in the 2019 tax year by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Three ways to handle a gap There are three main ways to handle a gap in health care coverage: COBRA. If you’re in a coverage gap because you’ve left a job, you may be able to keep your previous employer’s health care coverage for up to 18 months through the federal COBRA program. One downside to this is that you’ll have to pay the full premium yourself (it’s typically split between you and your employer while you are employed), plus a potential administrative fee. Marketplace. You can enroll in an insurance marketplace health care plan through Healthcare.gov or your state’s portal. Typically you can only sign up for or change a Marketplace plan once a year, but you can qualify for a 60-day special enrollment period after you’ve had a major life event, such as losing a job, moving to a new home or getting married. Applying for an exemption. If you are without health care coverage for an extended period, you may still avoid paying the penalty by qualifying for an exemption. Valid exemptions include unaffordability (you must prove the cheapest health insurance plan costs more than 8.16 percent of your household income), income below the tax filing threshold (which was $10,400 for single filers below age 65 in 2017), ability to demonstrate certain financial hardships, or membership in certain tribal groups or religious associations. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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Answers to commonly asked tax questions

Posted on Mar 7, 2018

With all of the headlines about the changes to tax law, you probably have lots of questions. Here are answers to some of the most common questions taxpayers have this year. I’m hearing about a lot of changes to 2018 taxes. What should I do? A. You’re right, there are a lot of changes in 2018 due to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), including to the income tax brackets. The simple answer to the question “What should I do?” is to not make any major changes until you finish filing your 2017 taxes. Once you understand your 2017 tax obligation, you are in a better position to plan for 2018. However, there are a few things you can start thinking about now. Depending on where you fall in the new income tax brackets, you may want to consider ways to lower your taxable income. This could include increasing your contributions to 401(k) retirement accounts or health savings accounts (HSAs). You’ll also want to make sure your employer has adjusted your federal tax withholding so that you don’t have to wait to receive a large refund (or tax bill) next year. You can review the IRS withholding calculator using your latest pay stub data to make sure the changes are accurate. What is the penalty amount if I didn’t have health insurance in 2017? A. The penalty per adult is calculated as the greater of either $695 or 2.5 percent of your yearly household income, up to a maximum of $3,264 for individuals or $16,320 for a family of five or more. Note that the penalty is still in place for tax years 2017 and 2018. The TCJA eliminates the penalty for 2019 through 2025. Is Social Security taxed? A. It depends. You won’t pay tax on more than 85 percent of your Social Security income, but how much gets taxed depends on your income bracket. If your combined income is less than $25,000 for the year, you won’t pay tax on Social Security income. When is the last day to do my taxes? A. Technically, Tuesday, April 17. But don’t wait until the last minute. Ask for help to get started now, or to file an extension so you have time to complete your tax return later. The sooner you file, the sooner you can get your refund. It usually takes about three weeks to arrive from the date you file. Also, remember you need to keep most tax related documents for at least three years, so don’t toss your paperwork after you file. The IRS contacted me, what should I do? A. Ask for help. There are numerous scammers who impersonate the IRS during tax season. The real IRS will never contact you via social media, email or text message. In addition, an IRS agent will not contact you over the phone unless you first receive official correspondence in the mail. If you have received a notice in the mail, immediately ask for help to determine how to proceed. These are just a few of the questions people have during tax season. If you have more, don’t forget to bring them to your 2017 filing appointment. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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Are you a caregiver? These tax breaks may be helpful

Posted on Mar 5, 2018

Those who care for people who are sick, elderly or disabled are often up against a lot of challenges. Fortunately, there may be a handful of tax breaks that can help. They include the medical expense deduction, the Child and Dependent Care Credit, and the new family credit in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Give us a call if you have questions. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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New 1095-B and 1095-C due date: March 2

Posted on Feb 19, 2018

The IRS said it will allow large health insurance companies to delay sending out health insurance confirmation forms. The Jan. 31 due date has been delayed until March 2. Keep in mind that you can still fill your tax return without this form as long as you can prove you have health insurance. This change does not impact people who purchase insurance from the ACA marketplace (Form 1095-A). Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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Contractor or Employee? Knowing the difference is important

Posted on Sep 28, 2017

Is a worker an independent contractor or an employee? As an employer, getting this wrong could land you with an IRS audit and cost you plenty in many other ways.Here’s what you should know: As the worker: If the worker is a contractor and not considered an employee, he/she must: Pay self-employment taxes (Social Security and Medicare-related taxes). Make estimated federal and state tax payments. Handle his/her own benefits, insurance and bookkeeping. As the employer: You must ensure your employee versus independent contractor determination is correct. Getting this wrong in the eyes of the IRS can lead to: Payment and penalties related to Social Security and Medicare taxes. Payment of possible overtime, including penalties for a contractor reclassified as an employee. A legal obligation to pay for benefits. When the IRS recharacterizes an independent contractor as an employee, they look at the business relationship between the employer and the worker. The IRS considers if the employer has the right to control the work (when, how and where the work is done) and the financial relationship (i.e., a contractor has a contract and customers, and invoices the company). The more reasonable your basis for classification and the more consistently it is applied, the more likely an independent contractor classification will not be...

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CONTRACTOR OR EMPLOYEE?

Posted on Sep 20, 2017

Knowing the difference is important Is a worker an independent contractor or an employee? This seemingly simple question is often the contentious subject of numerous IRS audits. As an employer, getting this wrong could cost you plenty in the way of Social Security, Medicare and other employment-related taxes. Here is what you need to know. As the worker: If you are a contractor and not considered an employee you must: Pay self-employment taxes (Social Security and Medicare-related taxes) Make estimated federal and state tax payments. Handle your own benefits, insurance and bookkeeping. As the employer: You must ensure your employee versus independent contractor determination is correct. Getting this wrong in the eyes of the IRS can lead to: Payment and penalties related to Social Security and Medicare taxes. Payment of possible overtime, including penalties for a contractor reclassified as an employee. A legal obligation to pay for benefits. Things to consider When the IRS recharacterizes an independent contractor as an employee they look at the business relationship between the employer and the worker. The IRS focuses on the degree of control exercised by the business over the work done and they assess the worker’s independence. Here are some of their guidelines: The more the employer has the right to control the work (when, how and where the work is done), the more likely the worker is an employee. The more the financial relationship is controlled by the employer, the more likely the relationship will be seen as an employee and not an independent contractor. To clarify this, an independent contractor should have a contract, have multiple customers, invoice the company for work done, and handle financial matters in a professional manner. The more businesslike the arrangement, the more likely you have an independent contractor relationship. While there are no hard-set rules, the more reasonable your basis for classification and the more consistently it is applied, the more likely an independent contractor classification will not be challenged. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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