NEW YORK (MainStreet) — At least one group of Americans is pleased with Obamacare: tax preparers. With the implementation last year of the new healthcare law comes additional filing burdens for taxpayers, including new forms, proof of insurance coverage and wage reconciliation. All told, H&R Block, the nation's largest tax preparation service, expects its business to boom this year.
"Generally tax complexity is a good thing for H&R Block," Block CEO Bill Cobb told Reuters.
The information on that form is then used to complete the Premium Tax Credit (Form 8962). You can already see that this is practically tax-preparer heaven.
And then there's the matter of accounting for wages earned that may have qualified a taxpayer for the subsidy in the first place. For example, if last year you earned more than you estimated, you'll have to repay at least a portion of the subsidy. H&R Block estimates that as many as half of the taxpayers who received health insurance subsidies – nearly 3.5 million people – will see reduced tax refunds this year because of subsidy overpayments.
Of course, filers who did not have health insurance last year will owe a penalty, unless they qualify for an exemption – and will need to file a form for that, too. It's Form 8965 for you home gamers. Any unpaid fee will be deducted from your tax refund, if you are owed one.
The additional paperwork is a potential windfall for tax preparation services. Wedbush Securities analyst Gil Luria has estimated that H&R Block could charge from $5 to $30 to complete the Obamacare forms. If just one-quarter of the service's nearly 14 million customers pay $30 to file one of the forms, it could mean more than $100 million in additional revenue for H&R Block. And that's just considering one tax preparation firm. Add to that the neighborhood CPAs, the lady-in-the-Statue-of-Liberty-costume tax filing firms on nearly every corner and the countless online tax-prep programs – and you've got a real boon to the paperwork economy.
--Hal M. Bundrick is a Certified Financial Planner and contributor to MainStreet. Follow him on Twitter: @HalMBundrick