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How will the Affordable Care Act Affect Your 2014 Tax Refund?

health careWe have all heard the horror stories of HealthCare.gov, but what we haven’t heard much about is how the Affordable Care Act will affect your tax return for 2014. When you file your taxes next April, you will have to prove that you meet the requirements of the ACA, calculate your tax credit or penalty if applicable, and fill out yet another tax form.
 
The good news is that most American’s already have qualifying health insurance coverage through their employers. If you have coverage through your job, you do not need to do anything more than maintain that coverage in 2014. Employers who provide insurance must meet the requirements of the ACA for you.
 
If you don’t have coverage through your work, then you have a little more work to do:
 
1) You will have to prove that you have qualifying coverage. Qualifying coverage means it is provided by your employer, was purchased on the Health Insurance Marketplace, is a Government-sponsored plan, purchased directly from an insurance company, etc.
 
You can be exempt from maintaining qualified coverage if the cost is >8% of your household income, you have a gap in coverage of less than 3 months, or you qualify for an exemption.
 
2) You may have to make an individual shared responsibility payment. For any month in 2014 that you or your dependents don’t maintain coverage, you will have to pay a penalty on your tax return. However, if you went without coverage for less than three consecutive months during the year you may qualify for the short coverage gap exemption and will not have to make a payment for those months.
 
If you (or any of your dependents) do not maintain coverage and do not qualify for an exemption, you will need to make an individual shared responsibility payment with your return. In general, the payment amount is either a percentage of your income or a flat dollar amount, whichever is greater. You will owe 1/12th of the annual payment for each month you (or your dependents) do not have coverage and are not exempt. The annual payment amount for 2014 is the greater of:
 
a) 1% of your household income that is above the tax return threshold for your filing status, or
b) Your family’s flat dollar amount, which is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child.
 
The payment is limited to $285 max, which is the national average premium for the bronze level health plan available through the Marketplace in 2014. Keep in mind that this payment goes up drastically over the next few years.
 
3) You will have to reconcile your subsidy. If you meet the income requirements, you can receive subsidy to assist you with your monthly insurance payments. If you report higher income on your tax return, you will have to repay some or all of that subsidy you were given. If you did not take advantage of the subsidy, but you qualified for it, you will receive that money back on your tax return.
 
The way this is going to work on next year’s taxes is not 100% clear, but it is getting there. Our advice to you is to make sure you have qualified coverage for your entire household, be prepared to pay the penalty if you are not covered, and be careful if you are receiving subsidy since it may have to be repaid.
 
For more information about your coverage options, financial assistance, and the Marketplace, visit HealthCare.gov.

Big changes for health care

Health Insurance Marketplace Notices Must Be Distributed by October 1st.

 

The deadline is almost here. By October 1, 2013, employers must deliver written notices with details about health insurance marketplaces (formerly known as exchanges) to employees. Notices should also be given to new hires within 14 days of their start date.

 

The Department of Labor has provided model notices for you to use:
 

 

Implement Time Tracking Before January 2014

 

Compliance with the Affordable Care Act may require employers to track employee hours every month in 2014. In order to comply, you need to have a time tracking system in place by January 2014.

College Bound

College BoundYou can’t follow your kids off to college. Luckily, your insurance coverage can.

 

For ERIE Policyholder Ellen Hobby, it was an ordinary Thursday morning before she got the voicemail message from her son, James. Late the night before, the college student in Savannah, Ga., had been robbed at gunpoint.

 

“I listened in horror as James told me what had happened,” Ellen recalls. “The perpetrators took his wallet, phone, keys and, of course, the car.” As the thieves made their getaway, James was shaken, but safe.

 

The car was not.

 

The carjackers had bailed out of the moving vehicle in an attempt to elude police, leaving the still-running car to crash into the living room of a nearby home. There were no injuries, though the homeowners were understandably surprised.

 

“At least they found the car,” Ellen said, doing her best to keep a sense of humor after the stressful incident.

 

Parenting a child from a distance is hard for any parent without having something like this happen.  For help use the checklist below to prepare for your children’s college experience.

 

Five things to discuss with your ERIE Agent before the semester begins.

 

  1. Auto insurance – Your household might get a discount when your child goes off to school and leaves his or her car behind. Or, if the ride is going to school, too, an extra review beforehand can make sure everyone is fully protected.
  2. Homeowners insurance – Usually the belongings of your child-turned-college-student will be covered by your homeowners, but it’s best to be sure.
  3. Renters insurance – This is especially important to discuss if your son or daughter is moving from dorm to apartment, just to be doubly sure everything is covered.
  4. Life – If student loans are involved, life insurance can help in the case of an unexpected tragedy. If a tragedy never occurs (thankfully), a student can opt to carry on the life insurance to the next stage of life.
  5. Personal Catastrophe Liability (PCL) – Accidents happen unexpectedly. Extra liability coverage, commonly called an umbrella policy, can help protect you should a lawsuit ensue from a big mistake.

Safe Summer Fun – Keep the kiddos out of harm’s way during long, lazy backyard days

jumping for funby Amanda Prischak

 

Your backyard might be a fun place for the kids and the rest of the family. But is it safe? Each year, about 51,000 children are injured on backyard playground equipment alone. And thousands of others are injured or even die doing other activities. Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to stay safe on land, air or water.

 

Swing Sets

Opt for ones with seats made of something soft instead of wood or metal. Install the set on a level surface and consider setting it in concrete. Place energy-absorbent material like sand, rubber or mulch underneath the set. Periodically check to make sure no screws or bolts are uncapped, rusted or broken. On hot days, check the temperature of slides and swings to prevent burns.

 

Trampoline

Make sure your model has shock-absorbing pads that fully cover the frame, hooks and springs. Refrain from using a ladder that could give small children unsupervised access to the trampoline. Only allow one person on at a time, and have a no-somersaults policy. Make sure you buy an add-on cage enclosure that keeps anyone from bouncing off. Replace the fabric and springs regularly.

 

Pool

Install fencing that’s at least five feet high and features self-locking, self-closing gates. Regularly check and repair the pool’s drain and suction covers to prevent entrapment. Never let anyone swim alone, and make sure children are well supervised. Have a pool hook, plenty of life vests, a ring buoy with line and a phone close by. Consider learning CPR, and use a pool cover when the fun’s done. Ban head-first dives.

 

Tree Houses

Choose a strong, sturdy tree that’s far away from any electrical wires. Refrain from placing the house any higher than 10 feet. Make sure the path up is a solid barrier wall that’s at least 38 inches tall and don’t hang any ropes or chains-they pose strangulation risks. Spread lots of mulch underneath the tree house. Each spring, check for any rotting or wear on the tree house and branches supporting it.

 

Wood surfaces

While cancer causing arsenic-based wood was phased out in 2003, your wood structures may contain it and other harmful chemicals. Stay safe by sealing decks every year with penetrating deck treatments. Refrain from pressure washing or using any deck washing treatments, as they can turn wood toxic; instead, clean with disposable rags and soap and water. Err on the side of caution with picnic tables and cover with a tablecloth.

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