Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Run Away Tax Fraud

Wherever we turn - national or local news, neighbor or co-worker - we hear about those who have been the target of state and federal tax fraud.  

The number of fraudulent tax returns is on the rise as criminals use stolen names and Social Security Numbers to forge W-2 information on electronically filed tax returns.  Most people do not realize that they have been a victim of identity theft until they try to file their tax return and discover that a criminal beat them to their refund.

The federal tax return fraud rate ranges between of 1% to 2%. States report an increase in fraudulent tax returns this year of 50% to 3,700%.

1.      File a report with your local police and with the FTC.
2.      Report fraud to IRS, Identity Protection Specialized Unit: 1-800-908-4490
3.      File a theft claim with the FTC: Send a copy of your police report or an IRS ID Theft Affidavit Form, along with proof of your identity, to the IRS: 
4.      Put a fraud alert on your credit reports: 
5.      Order and monitor your credit report

Check out the FTC article on a comprehensive identity theft action document with step-by-step instructions on recovering from this crime. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sign Up for Health Care Coverage or Pay Penalty

The Affordable Care Act(ACA) – also known as Obamacare – is a law enacted to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable health insurance. It supports discounts (known as tax credits) on government-sponsored health insurance plans, and expanded the Medicaid assistance program to include more people. The law requires most Americans to have insurance by Feb 15 or pay a fine at tax time. The Obama administration extended the deadline to April 30, which is the end of the tax season, so to allow people who discover they would owe a fine, to still sign up for coverage. 

The Wall Street Journal reported that many uninsured are choosing the penalty over the opportunity to enroll in a healthcare insurance plan. Choosing to go without health insurance puts your assets at risk. If you consider yourself healthy, you can select a plan with low premiums. You will have higher out-of-pocket costs at the time of care than with more expensive plans, but you will still have protection against an acute episode of costly care, which if unprotected, can drive you to bankruptcy.

If you do not have health care insurance through your employer, and you are not covered by Medicare or Medicaid, then you can buy a healthcare plan on www.healthcare.gov if your state participates in the federal program or else from your state’s health care website. For access to an up-to-date information on each state’s health insurance marketplace profile, check out http://kff.org/state-health-marketplace-profiles/.