News Coverage

18 November 2013

VOXXI: Many Latinos still uninformed of Obamacare tax implications

Category: News Coverage

While most Americans are talking about the viability of the new Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, not many understand the tax implications that this new law might have on their next year’s tax returns.

As the most important amend to the federal tax code in the last 20 years, the ACA will determine healthcare benefits and credits eligibility through individual, family and business tax returns. Then, an accurate tax return submission as well as a good tax history can be decisive for many families and businesses that rely on these benefits.

“A tax return is a very important tool for Latinos, regardless of their immigration status. Understanding and filling out a correct tax return each year can determine the possibility of finding a job, buying a house or going to school. It can also mean eligibility for immigration status and now, healthcare benefits,” said Maite Arce, president of Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF).

Through a strategic partnership with H&R Block –the largest source for tax preparation and online tax services–, the organization has concentrated its efforts in providing access to such vital information, now in 17 communities around the country.

High rates of uninsured among Latinos.

According to Arce, Latinos have higher rates of uninsured people than any other minority group in the country. Nearly one in three Hispanics lack health coverage –compared to one in five non-Hispanic Blacks and one in eight Non-Hispanic Whites, says a report from the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).

“Many Latinos feel they don’t know the basics, not only of how a tax return works, but also how the Affordable Care Act might affect their eligibility for tax credits and for fines –in case they decide not to apply for the benefits this year,” she said.

To fix that problem, HAF has partnered this fall on one hand with national non-profits approved as ACA navigators to help families, individuals and businesses apply for the new healthcare benefit. On the other, HAF provides information on both tax implications through a number of workshops conducted around the country.

“Over 30,000 individuals have gone through our workshops to try understanding how tax returns will work for them,” she said.

HAF is now offering these services in 17 communities around the country including Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Ft. Worth, TX; Denver, CO; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Orange County, CA; Boston, MA; Miami/Broward County, FL; New York City Metro; Hudson County, NJ; Providence, RI; McAllen/Brownsville, TX; Phoenix, AZ; Riverside, CA; San Bernardino, CA; and Washington, DC.

Information of Obamacare tax implications for families and individuals

The tax professionals at H&R Block have prepared some common case scenarios with families and individuals at different income levels to help understand the tax implications for each one.

The case scenarios describe uninsured couples with children, couples insured through employment without coverage for their children, couples without children and single people. According to their income level, some people might be eligible for the new expansion of Medicaid also provided through the ACA. So far, 25 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid, and are accepting applications through their state websites.

The scenarios also describe the type of fines those who decide not to ascribe to the benefits will have to pay. Those fines would be included in their tax calculations next year.

If families or individuals’ income change during the year, it is advisable that they communicate their new situation to the IRS as soon as possible. Income variations might determine differences in tax credit eligibility –in receiving more or less tax credit. Those adjustments will be applied to the amount of taxes they owe or to their refund.

Obamacare and the undocumented

“Although undocumented Hispanics cannot have coverage under the new ACA, they can call our helpline to find out other resources in their communities that provide basic healthcare services,” Arce said.

The HAF president said that the first barrier for the Spanish-speaking population to access services is lack of knowledge of resources in their own communities. The second barrier is trusting the resources that provide the information and the service.

“We work with faith-based organizations that Latinos trust, as pastors and clergy act as third-party credibility,” Arce said. “Latino families are very interested in receiving Affordable Care Act information but there are still delays in understanding the information fully. It will be a slow process for this community,” she anticipates.

A complete list of workshop dates and locations is available at For more information, those interested can call their helpline at 800-206-9096.  By Susana G. Baumann

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