New California law may result in huge tax penalties if you don’t have health insurance in 2020. This writes the LA Times.
But the law contains several exceptions that allow some people to avoid punishment, including inmates, residents with low income and those who live abroad.
“It was really important that people have received clear guidance and instructions that they inadvertently did not pay the fine when they have the right to be free from it,” says Laurel Lucia, Director of the health Program of the research Center of the UC Berkeley labor.
Except in California a similar law in Massachusetts, new Jersey, Rhode island, Vermont and Washington (DC).
Most types of insurance including medical, Medicare and insurance coverage sponsored by the employer, will satisfy the requirements of the state of California. People who buy insurance for themselves and their families through Covered California, through the state health insurance exchange or on the open market, you can until January 31 to purchase a plan for 2020.
If you did not then you are required to pay a fine in 2020, it will prescribe when you file your tax return in 2021. The penalty will be $695 per adult and half for child dependents.
It is expected that penalty payments will increase by $317 million in the first year of collection of fines. This money will help to pay for new state subsidies that will make insurance more affordable for some people.
You will not have to pay a penalty if you are not insured for three consecutive months or less during the year, or if you are in prison, or are native American. Similarly, if you are in the U.S. illegally. Illegal immigrants not entitled to Federal tax benefits to help them pay the premiums for health insurance plans sold through Covered California.
Total exemption from fines is also available if you are experiencing personal or family difficulties, including homelessness, domestic violence, bankruptcy, eviction or consequences of a natural disaster.
You can also apply for an exemption from the penalty if in 2020 you have to spend more of 8.24% of their income on insurance premiums.
Covered California will handle three types of exceptions: religion, common difficulties and accessibility. According to James Scullary, representative of the exchange, for each of them you will need to complete a separate application, and they will be available from January.
As for other exceptions, you will need to apply when you file your return for the 2020 tax Commission in early 2021. The representative of the tax Commission promises that “tax forms and instructions will contain information about all the exceptions declared in the tax Declaration.”
Gerald Kominski, senior researcher of the research Center for health policy at the University of California in Los Angeles, says that 8 percent is too high and is forcing many middle-class families to pay the fine, even when they have trouble buying insurance.
Steven Morlock, a resident of Los Angeles, were paid hundreds of dollars in Federal fines for several years because he felt too strained financially to spend $ 250 a month for medical insurance plan. He was paid almost half of his salary of $ 2,500 a month just for rent.
“I would very strongly to change their habits, says 41-year-old Morlock. — It would reduce the amount of money I had on non-fixed expenses by about half”. At the end of 2018, he finally got sponsored insurance from an employer.
Another exception that caused some controversy, for membership in a religious community that brings together like-minded religious, primarily Christians, who pays the medical expenses each other.
Legislators who opposed the inclusion of this exception in the California law, argue that communities are under minor supervision by regulatory authorities, the coverage that they offer is limited and not guaranteed. In recent times there had been concerns about fictitious communities engaged in fraudulent business practices.
Bob Steadman says that he and his family were exempted from Federal penalties every year because of their membership in the Samaritan community. A resident of lake forest plans to use the same exception in accordance with the laws of the state of California.
If you are not sure whether you qualify for benefits, you can obtain further information from Covered California or the tax office.
But don’t limit yourself to these two agencies. Insurance agents and tax authorities across the state are trying to master the details of the new law, and they can help.