No Sleep 'til Brooklyn: Tax Season Edition
Last year I assumed, for months, that once March 31st came and went, I'd be free to close up shop. Then they tacked on the 2-week "extension period". Then a whole mess of other stuff happened, and, well, here I am, still chugging along almost 10 months later. This year, however, I was operating on the assumption that once February 15th came along, I'd be able to pull the plug (not saying that I would, just that I'd be free to do so if I wished). However...
Open Enrollment ends February 15. As a retail tax preparer, I'm flummoxed by this. We're barely beginning to see clients--the first ones with nothing but a W-2 are just trickling in the door.
But by the time the majority of them come in, it'll be too late for them to sign up through the federal exchange. So we will ask if they have insurance, and if not, and don't qualify for Medicaid, we have to tell them they're SOL until next year unless they have a qualifying event. Yes, I know they're not technically SOL, but they won't have access to cost-sharing policies or APTC, thus locking people out of the insurance market who otherwise might have gotten in through the exchange.
I find this maddening and frustrating, but I don't see any chance that the open enrollment date will be extended.
--by puzzled on Mon Jan 26, 2015 at 09:42:18 PM EST
They might extend it, but I suspect they won't. Then again, they might re-open it from, say, 4/1 to 4/15 or something...who knows...
--by Brainwrap on Mon Jan 26, 2015 at 09:45:04 PM EST
Another federal official also warned that people who fail to sign up for health insurance coverage for this year shouldn't count on getting an extension past the Feb. 15 deadline for doing so.
But that official, Andy Slavitt, also didn't totally rule out the possibility that there will end up being a "special enrollment" period for tax filers who realized when they submitted their 2014 returns later this year that the tax penalty for failing to have insurance in 2015 is significantly higher than it was last year.
OK, I'm not saying that this was amazing prescience on my part; it wasn't an especially profound idea. However, it does mean that there may still be a purpose for this project through at least the end of April.
Plus, of course, the King v. Burwell SCOTUS case, which is scheduled for March, with a final ruling expected sometime in June.
I'm really torn about the King case, believe it or not. On a human, legal, economic, common sense and moral level, I obviously want the Supreme Court to rule against the plaintiffs.
However, perhaps I'm biased here: If this case is shot down, it also means that the 3rd year will be fairly quiet, which is good because I desperately need some sleep.
If the SCOTUS rules for the plaintiffs, however (and does rip away federal exchange tax credits), then all bets are off, and this site will likely become busier than ever with the reprecussions (Half a dozen states setting up their own exchanges? Changes in the ACA itself? Massive disruption of the 2016 enrollment numbers?)