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PPACA tax misery index edges lower

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A LifeHealthPro measure of the consumer tax trauma inflicted by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) shows the level of pain may be staying about the same, or falling slightly.

The staff of LifeHealthPro computes the measure, the PPACA 1095-A tax pain index, by searching three major Web-based tax forums for the terms 1095, 1095-A and 1040. We then divide the sum of the number of threads referring to 1095 and 1095-A that were started during the previous week by the number of new threads referring to 1040.

The “pain index” fell to 11 percent during the week ending April 8, down from 13 percent during the week ending April 1 and rising from 12 percent in mid-March.

This is an informal measure, and we have not computed a standard of deviation. Small changes may be the result of random fluctuations rather than an underlying change in confusion about 1095-A forms.

Users of the forums included — the Intuit TurboTax forum, H&R Block’s Community forum, and readers’ forum  — started 79 threads about 1095 or 1095-A forms during the week ending April 8 and 728 threads about 1040 forms.

The number 1040 threads fell 2 percent, and the number of 1095 threads fell 20 percent, to 79, from 99. 

Form 1095-A is the form a PPACA public exchange is supposed to send to exchange users to tell the users about the coverage they have owned and the PPACA exchange tax credit subsidies they have received.

See also: Meet IRS Form 1095-A

Form 1040 refers to a family of forms taxpayers use to file household tax returns.

Before the current tax filing season started, many experts were predicting that confusion over PPACA tax forms would lead to massive taxpayer confusion, with taxpayers swamping Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assistance lines and brick-and-mortar tax preparation offices.

Earlier in the tax season, tax preparation firm executives said business was slower than they’d expected.

When this reporter passed by tax preparer offices in North Kansas City, Mo., last week and New York City this week, little activity was evident. Around 7:30 p.m. Monday, a tax preparation kiosk in a shopping mall in Jersey City, N.J., was helping one client and had no clients waiting for assistance.