H&R Block (NYSE:HRB) is looking at the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) as a chance to attracts tens of thousands of people to its brick-and-mortar offices.
The tax-preparation firm is holding free, live-human PPACA tax advice sessions — from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday — at about 10,000 of its offices.
No appointment is necessary, the company says.
An executive at an H&R Block competitor, Liberty Tax, estimated in September that about 25 percent of its customers would have to file some kind of PPACA form.
Bill Cobb, president of H&R Block, noted that the moderate-income consumers who use the PPACA health insurance premium tax credit will be more likely to need some kind of professional help, because they will no longer be able to file their returns on a Form 1040EZ.
For a look at what H&R Block is now saying about PPACA and current tax filing season, read on.
1. Consumers are still confused about PPACA
H&R Block commissioned a survey of 1,040 adults 18 years of age or older who live in the continental United States in late October.
Many consumers said they thought they understood the PPACA advance premium tax credit (APTC) system — but H&R Block analysts believe the answers show that many of those consumers are lost.
About 61 percent of the consumers who used an APTC to reduce the out-of-pocket cost of PPACA exchange plan premiums said they are confident they estimated their income correctly when they applied for the tax credit — but 66 percent did not realize the APTC calculations would be based on their 2013 tax return information, according to Kathy Pickering, the head of the company’s in-house tax think tank.
See also: RS explains PPACA for plain folks
2. Consumers still think the penalty for being uninsured, or underinsured, is just $95
Originally, many of the policy specialists struggling to explain PPACA said taxpayers with income over a certain level who failed to qualify for an exemption and failed to have “minimum essential coverage” in 2014 would pay a penalty of $95.