I’m the first to agree that April 15th comes too early every year. Just like my wife’s birthday, it sneaks up on me when I’m not looking and suddenly I find myself frantically scrambling at the last minute to buy a present and gather all the related accessories like a card, wrapping paper and dinner reservations. The same thing happens just before April 15th, but at least I can apply for an extension – unlike with my wife’s birthday. Can you imagine the scene if I came home from work on my wife’s birthday to find her sitting expectantly in the living room, dressed and ready to go out for a special dinner, only for me to inform her that I had arranged for a 6-month delay on the celebrations? Take my advice – don’t try this at home.
But if you have extended the deadline to file your 2015 tax return until October 17th, then now is the time to gather your documents and get working on that 1040. Right now you’re probably thinking of the rounding up the usual suspects like your W-2, and maybe some 1099s for income from interest or dividends, or even from gambling winnings if you’re lucky. You might also have some K-1s from those supposedly “can’t-miss” oil drilling partnerships that your brother-in-law got you into a few years ago. And then there’s your mortgage interest statement, property taxes, and receipts from donations to charity. Then don’t forget those school fees and other education expenses, day care, mileage logs, and all those medical receipts that usually never add up to enough to claim a deduction, but you keep collecting them anyway.
You’ve been through this routine over and over, and whether you do your taxes yourself or take the whole messy pile to a professional preparer, you know exactly what papers you need, right?
Or maybe you don’t. Remember a couple of years ago when the whole Affordable Care Act took effect and you had to provide information on your tax return about your health insurance coverage, or lack thereof? Some people can claim an exemption from the requirement to have health insurance, but everyone else needs to either show the IRS that they are covered or else pay a penalty.
This brings us to a new form that you need to add to the pile of paperwork you’re putting together to beat the coming filing deadline. If you had insurance coverage in 2015, you should have received at least one Form 1095 that shows which month or months you had coverage during the year. This particular form comes in three flavors: 1095-A; 1095-B; and 1095-C. You will receive:
Some people will receive more than one of the above forms, depending on whether they changed jobs or insurance providers during the year. Regardless of how many 1095 forms you have, you need to make sure that together they correctly show the months that you had health insurance during the year. If any 1095 form(s) are missing or incorrect, you will need to contact your employer or insurance provider and ask them to send you a corrected form.
And after you’ve safely filed for 2015, make a mental note to expect to receive one or more 1095s early next year for 2016, just like you receive your W-2.
Just as importantly, make a note to start planning for your significant other’s birthday a month ahead of time. Trust me, you won’t regret it.