With tax time fast approaching, there's a new hoop to jump through: Those without health insurance may be facing ObamaCare penalties for 2014—and for 2015 if they don't nail down coverage by Feb. 15, NPR reports. Those who were uninsured in 2014 may face a tax penalty of either 1% of income or a flat fee of $95 per adult, $47.50 per child under the age of 18 (whichever fee is higher). And anyone who misses the end of the Affordable Care Act's open enrollment on Feb. 15 will be ponying up even greater penalties for 2015: the higher of either 2% of income or $325 per adult, $162.50 for kids under 18. Beyond that, the 2016 penalty will be assessed at 2.5% of income or $695 per person, adjusting every year after that for inflation.
Because many people don't think about taxes until the W-2s start trickling in (often at the end of January), there won't be a lot of time for them to consider buying health insurance, NPR notes. And they may still choose not to: About 11% of the uninsured who opt out simply can't afford it, while 27% say it's less expensive to pay the tax penalty than to purchase health insurance, CBS News reports. Tax preparers aren't looking forward to telling the uninsured they're going to have to pay the IRS a little extra, but they're trying to educate consumers about eligibility for regular fee exemptions or hardship exemptions, such as being homeless, having lots of medical debt, or experiencing the death of a loved one. Intuit estimates about 20 million uninsured people are eligible for exemptions, Forbes reports. (Here's further info on new forms that may have to be filed and boxes to be checked.)