- The Washington Times - Friday, March 20, 2015

The administration said Friday it still had to send corrected tax forms to 80,000 of the 820,000 HealthCare.gov customers who received erroneous information from the federal Obamacare exchange earlier this year.

Marketplace CEO Kevin Counihan said the “overwhelming majority” of affected customers — 740,000 — had received amended forms that list the correct benchmark plan by which their Obamacare subsides are calculated. The rest of the forms will be in the mail next week.

The error was an embarrassing misstep for the administration, which had been celebrating a relatively hiccup-free signup season that stretched from mid-November to Feb. 15.

Administrative stumbles in the marketplace were inevitable, Mr. Counihan said Friday, and in this case, a flaw in computer code resulted in the incorrect forms.

“We have a responsibility to identify these issues quickly,” he told reporters. “It doesn’t matter if it impacts 800,000 consumers or one.”

Officials said anyone who does not receive a corrected form should contact the federal exchange, as the tax-filing deadline is less than 30 days away.

Filers who purchased subsidy health coverage on the Obamacare exchanges need the form, known as a 1095-A, to reconcile their tax credits with their actual income in 2014. A filer cannot do that accurately unless the form lists the correct benchmark plan — the second-lowest cost plan on an exchange’s silver tier.

Treasury Department officials have said the estimated 50,000 customers who filed their taxes before they received the correct forms do not have to refile or pay back any subsidy they were not entitled to.

Consumers who would have received money back from the IRS may file again.

This tax season marks the first time American taxpayers have to address their health care status on their returns. The vast majority of people will simply check a box to attest they have coverage through their employers or other means.

Employers are not reporting matching data to the government in this first go-round with Obamacare, so the administration must trust filers to be honest.

However, anyone who lies on the forms would be doing so under the penalty of perjury and could be exposed during an audit, said Mark Mazur, assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy.

Meanwhile, some filers will have to pay a tax penalty for lacking insurance in 2014.

The “individual mandate” tax for 2014 is the greater of $95 or 1 percent of household income above the filing threshold, a levy that rises to $325 or 2 percent of income in 2015.

Customers in the 37 states that use the federal HealthCare.gov portal can sign up for coverage until April 30 and avoid the 2015 fee if they owed a penalty for last year and realized their predicament after the Feb. 15 deadline to sign up on Obamacare’s exchanges.

Many of the exchanges run by 13 states and the District of Columbia have offered similar grace periods to penalty payers.

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