Important! ACA and 2017 Tax Returns

For tax year 2016, taxpayers had an option to file a return opting not to report the health coverage information that is used to show compliance or calculate health coverage penalties ("Individual responsibility payment"). That option is going away for tax year 2017 returns which will be filed in 2018. The IRS announced that returns not reporting the information will not be able to be e-filed, and paper-filed returns that leave it out could be delayed until the information is provided.

The penalties were scheduled to increase again this year, and they can be severe. Be aware also that those who receive a premium tax credit (PTC) advance to help pay for exchange purchased policies may have to pay some or all of that advance back if in fact they do not qualify for the PTC. I have seen a number of these scenarios the last couple years that surprised people. For example, lets say you got marketplace policy and they anticipated you would qualify for a PTC of $1200 for the year. They issue an "advance" that pays part of your premium, and you are paying $400 a month. Your premium is actually $500 a month, and you are borrowing $100 a month from the US Treasury that is being applied against your premium. If at filing time because of income you don't actually qualify for the PTC, you have to pay the $1200 back.

There are certain exemptions allowed that would eliminate penalty. These include short coverage gaps between coverage of two months or less, low income exemption, being a member of a cost sharing ministry, being a member of certain religious sects, living abroad, and unaffordable coverage to name a few. In the event of unaffordable coverage, you must be aware that this is a Marketplace exemption that must be granted ahead of filing time. You cannot simply base this on the cost of premiums you have shopped.

ACA is up in the air in Congress still, but as of this time the law stands as is and the IRS sets the reporting requirements. If you have any questions, please feel free to call for clarification on your situation.

In your corner,

Dave

Foresight is Better than Hindsight

We're all about a thousand percent smarter when we look in the rear view mirror. If we could go back in time and re-do some things, we'd avoid some land mines and surprises. But as yet, time travel is still theoretical, so we live in the present.

Every tax season I talk to people who had major events happen in their lives. Many of these people forget to think about the tax consequences of events until it's filing time. Some will call me during the year, and say "Dave, thinking about selling this property, or changing this ... what would that look like?" I love it when I get those calls because we have a chance to plan for what is likely to come in an informed way, rather than crossing our fingers and hoping for the best. And every so often I can present an idea the client had not considered that may provide greater advantage. "Maybe a seller-financed deal would make sense for you here, so you can spread out the capital gains" ... "Perhaps we should change your business' tax election this year" and so on. (The moral of that story is, if you only talk to your accountant at tax time you are missing the boat in a big way!)

Financial foresight is something we talk about with clients a lot.  Hindsight is only helpful if we use past experience to inform present decisions. But with good historical information, foresight is possible. This concept can be used for any business or financial issue you may face. Foresight should always be the goal, because it is what puts you in control.

What gets in the way of financial foresight? Sometimes businesses lack the proper systems or processes to capture the information that is needed as it happens to create real hindsight. You first must understand what has happened in the past and why. Once you know these things, that knowledge can yield foresight for current issues you may be facing. There are other obstacles to financial foresight, but in my experience that is the most common problem.

I'm not going to spell out 4 magic steps to financial foresight here. My goal now is just to encourage you to think about your relationship with information. Do you know what is relevant? Do you have enough of it? Set your standards high and strive for financial foresight in all areas of your life. Get the right help, the right tools, the right systems, until you have it. It is when you refuse to settle for less that you will make the best decisions with greater confidence.

In your corner,

 Dave