BYBEE (WATE) – A Cocke County couple signed up with the Affordable Care Act were expecting to get hundreds of dollars as a tax refund this year, but they were shocked when their refund amounted to less than $20 and they want to know why.
Randy and Janice Turner, like many others, miscalculated their tax credit under Obamacare. They were expecting a tax refund this year. Randy Turner is disabled and draws Social security disability while Janice Turner works part-time. In 2014, she had no health insurance. So last year she signed up for the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare. They thought they were doing everything right to be eligible for a refund.
“They took my taxes and I don’t know why. I don’t know who took them or who got them. I’d like to know who got them,” said Randy Turner.
The Turners were surprised that they didn’t get their full refund.
“Well we figured to get about the same as last year because our income hadn’t changed, around $850 or a little more,” said Janice Turner.
Their insurance was through the Community Health Alliance in Knoxville, which is now out of business. The couple believed they had made the proper decisions about her health insurance.
“We went in there to take out insurance, told them we couldn’t pay no $300 or $400 for insurance for her,” said Randy Turner.
The cost of Janice Turner’s insurance was $140 a month.
“We sent her taxes and stuff in. It’s based on her income,” said Randy Turner.
They filled out a form 10-95A showing how much she made each month, but when they got their final tax return, it was a shocker.
We were supposed to get back $861. Then we went back over there, we got back $17,” said Randy Turner. “That’s a big hit.”
At the tax office, Janice Turner was told she made some miscalculations last year.
“She paid $139.99 a month,” said Randy Turner. “I thought we were doing right. Then they said we didn’t pay enough premium. It’s a rip off.”
“I think someone should have explained it to me. Maybe we should have paid more premium or something,” said Janice Turner.
Lisa Atkins, a tax adviser in Knoxville, does not know the Turners nor did her company fill out their tax return. However, she says H&R Block has reported thousands of people like the Turners, couples who had insurance under the Affordable Care Act, but had money subtracted from their tax refund.
“It is more of a technical problem because most people don’t quite understand what they are doing. Sometimes they may have to seek out some assistance in figuring out how they need to apply for the healthcare marketplace insurance so they are getting the right subsidy,” said Atkins.
Atkins says the Turners didn’t necessarily need to ask more questions to their insurance carrier.
“The tax consultant is probably going to know more of the ins and outs, how it is going to affect your taxes. We can help you plan for that,” she said.
Janice Turner has decided not to sign up for Obamacare this year. Together they have learned a costly lesson.
“Be aware of what’s going on before you get insurance. Make sure they explain it,” said Randy Turner.
As Atkins said, it’s your tax consultant who can best explain it or contact the IRS for assistance.
The tax preparation company H&R Block has reported that many people who went without health insurance in 2015 under the Affordable Care Act have ended up this tax season paying fines higher than in 2014. Among their customers who owe a penalty for the 2015 tax year, the average fine is $383 compared with $172 in 2014.
Separately, among those who have complied with the law and took advantage of Obamacare, six in ten are now having to pay back to the IRS some portion of their tax refund.
The Turners say they would have gotten more money back as a tax refund had they not signed up for the Affordable Care Act last year.