Affordable Care Act may negatively affect those still without insurance

Tax season is upon us and many Americans are looking forward to a financial boost from their tax return. This year is a bit different than years past because the Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as Obamacare, may have an effect on people’s returns.

One of President Barack Obama’s largest reform projects, the ACA has been extensively debated. A large concern has been the potential impact the ACA will have on taxes because of the funding that is needed to sustain a new insurance program.

“The whole premise is to get everybody insured,” said Ralph Danel, a tax specialist for H&R Block, “If you don’t have health insurance, and you didn’t get it in the marketplace, then there is a penalty for it.”

However, the reason is not because Obamacare is expensive. Instead, a refund can be negatively affected by not having health insurance for at least three months of the past year, according to

Laws enacted to ensure Americans get insured state that if a person does not have health insurance during 2014, there will be tax penalties enacted by the Internal Revenue Service, according to  Otherwise, tax returns will not be affected.

For California residents, the cheaper health insurance under the ACA can be purchased in the marketplace at Covered California’s website.

Through the lense of community college students, health insurance is still a financial burden, despite the reduced costs.

“I work part-time and I go to school full-time,” said Jacob Stewart, 22,a business major. “I barely make enough money to buy something I’ve been living without.”

Although a penalty may at first appear to be unfair to those who cannot afford to buy health insurance, the tax penalty is based on income and number of people living in a household.

“The penalty is based on how much income you have,” Danel said. “The logic behind it is that it is easier for you to buy the health insurance if you have higher income.”

The Individual Mandate is the provision under the ACA that stipulates all citizens must have health insurance or a tax penalty will be levied. However, according to the IRS, there are exemptions to this penalty. The main exemption is being low-income and unable to afford health insurance, despite the reduced rates of the ACA.

In order to apply for these exemptions, a Form 8965 must filled out allowing people to prove that they are low-income and that the cheapest plan available to them is more than 8% of their total income.

“I can’t afford to pay for insurance,” said Alejandra Martinez, 21, a communications major. “I just got engaged and I have a wedding to pay for. I just don’t make enough money to buy that.”

Some students at CRC say they are pinching every penny they can get and look forward to a boost in income through tax refunds.  However, the ACA’s penalty poses the potential to further those financial issues by reducing or completely negating any refund the student may be expecting otherwise.

There is the stress of possibly receiving less money than normal, but there is also the opportunity for full medical coverage.

“The Affordable Care Act is in its first year, we’ll see what happens,” Danel said.