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PPACA 1095-A tax pain index rises

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Just how miserable are Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) tax problems making consumers?

We tried to get a rough-and-ready way to answer that question by developing a new consumer tax pain tool, a Form 1095-A Pain Index.

See also: Meet IRS Form 1095-A

Form 1095-A is the notice a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) public exchange uses to document that a consumer had exchange plan coverage, what the full price of the coverage was, and how much PPACA advance premium tax credit (APTC) subsidy money the government paid for the coverage.

The instructions for the form look complicated to laypeople, and some exchange program managers, including the managers of HealthCare.gov, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) exchange enrollment and administration system, have reported having to send corrected 1095-As to some enrollees.

News organizations are posting occasional articles about long lines at Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office and private tax preparer offices. In Orlando, for example, News 13 has reported finding people camping out to get into an IRS office there. But executives at H&R Block and Liberty Tax have reported seeing fewer consumers than they expected during the first half of the season.

Consumers haven’t been posting many posts about 1095-A on two large social media services. Twitter and Reddit.

We tried to create a ruler for measuring how much 1095-A pain consumers are feeling, when compared with the usual Form 1040 pain, by looking at consumers’ posts on three tax-related message boards: Intuit’s TurboTax message board, H&R Block’s The Community message board, and the message board for The Tax Book.

For a look at what we found, keep reading.

Movie watchers

Americans file about 150 million 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ tax forms each year, and get about 2.3 billion 1099 forms. Households selected exchange plan coverage for about 7.5 million adults for 2014, and it looks as if about 6 million households could have had exchange coverage at some point during the year.

See also: PPACA penalty will hit up to 6 million taxpayers

Those statistics suggest that about 4 percent of the households filing tax returns for 2014 will be getting 1095-A forms for 2014.

We analyzed message board posting patterns by looking at posts including the search term 1095, 1095-A or 1040 for the past week and the past year.

When we looked at the ratio of 1095-A and 1095-related message board posts to posts including the term 1040, we found that, over the past year, board users started 1,044 discussions about 1095 forms, compared with 12,638 discussions about 1040 forms.

During the past year, message users have been about 8.3 percent as likely to start a thread about 1095-family forms as about the 1040.

In the past week, that percentage has increased to 12 percent.

The PPACA tax pain percentage is bigger and has increased more on the H&R Block board.

  • On the TurboTax board, the PPACA tax pain percentage has increased to 11 percent for the past week, from 7.7 percent for the past year.

  • On TheTaxBook.com board, the pain percentage fell to 10 percent for the past week, from 16 percent for the year.

  • On the H&R Block board, the pain percentage rose to 54 percent for the past week, from 15 percent for the year.

See also: 4 tax prep reminders for independent advisors