It's always a good idea to prepare early to file your federal income tax return. Certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act – also known as the Health Care Law – will probably affect your federal income tax return when you file this year.

Here are five things you should know about the health care law that will help you get ready to file your tax return.

Coverage requirements

The Affordable Care Act requires that you and each member of your family have qualifying health insurance coverage for each month of the year, qualify for an exemption from the coverage requirement, or make an individual shared responsibility payment when filing your federal income tax return.

Reporting requirements

Most taxpayers will simply check a box on their tax return to indicate that each member of their family had qualifying health coverage for the whole year. No further action is required. Qualifying health insurance coverage includes coverage under most, but not all, types of health care coverage plans. Use the chart on IRS.gov/aca to find out if your insurance counts as qualifying coverage.

For a limited group of taxpayers -those who qualify for, or received advance payments of the premium tax credit - the health care law could affect the amount of tax refund or the amount of money they may owe when they file in 2015. Visit IRS.gov/aca to learn more about the premium tax credit.

Exemptions

You may be eligible to claim an exemption from the requirement to have coverage. If you qualify for an exemption, you will need to complete the new IRS Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions, when you file your tax return. You must apply for some exemptions through the Health Care Insurance Marketplace. However, most of the exemptions are easily obtained from the IRS when you file your tax return. Some of the exemptions are available from either the Marketplace or the IRS.

If you receive an exemption through the Marketplace, you'll receive an Exemption Certificate Number to include when you file your taxes. If you have applied for an exemption through the Marketplace and are still waiting for a response, you can put "pending" on your tax return where you would normally put your Exemption Certificate Number.

Individual Shared Responsibility Payment

If you do not have qualifying coverage or an exemption for each month of the year, you will need to make an individual shared responsibility payment when you file your return for choosing not to purchase coverage. Examples and information about figuring the payment are available on the IRS Calculating the Payment page.

Premium Tax Credits

If you bought coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you should receive Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement from your Marketplace by early February. Save this form because it has important information needed to complete your tax return.

If you are expecting to receive Form 1095-A and you do not receive it by early February, contact the Marketplace where you purchased coverage. Do not contact the IRS because IRS telephone assistors will not have access to this information.

If you benefited from advance payments of the premium tax credit, you must file a federal income tax return. You will need to reconcile those advance payments with the amount of premium tax credit you're entitled to based on your actual income. As a result, some people may see a smaller or larger tax refund or tax liability than they were expecting. When you file your return, you will use IRS Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit (PTC), to calculate your premium tax credit and reconcile the credit with any advance payments.

For more information about the Affordable Care Act and your 2014 income tax return, visit IRS.gov/aca.

Get step-by-step guidance for all health insurance situations and file your federal return free with TaxAct Free Federal Edition. You can also learn more about all the tax implications of the ACA at HealthcareACT.com, powered by TaxAct.

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Upcoming Tax Dates

April 10 — Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during March, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.

April 10 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the first 15 days of March.

April 14 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the last 16 days of March.

April 18 — Individuals
File a 2016 income tax return (Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ) and pay any tax due. If you want an automatic 6 month extension of time to file the return, file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. For more information, see Form 4868. Then, file Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ by October 16.

April 18 — Corporations
File a 2016 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120) and pay any tax due. Details

April 18 — Individuals
If you are not paying your 2017 income tax through withholding (or will not pay in enough tax during the year that way), pay the first installment of your 2017 estimated tax. Use Form 1040ES.

April 18 — Household Employers
f you paid cash wages of $1,800 or more in 2016 to a household employee, you must file Schedule H Details

April 18 — Corporations
Deposit the first installment of estimated income tax for 2017 Details

April 18 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in March.

April 18 — Nonpayroll withholding
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in March.

April 18 — Household employers
If you paid cash wages of $1,900 or more in 2016 to a household employee, you must file Schedule H (Form 1040). If you are required to file a federal income tax return (Form 1040), file Schedule H (Form 1040) with the return and report any household employment taxes. Report any federal unemployment (FUTA) tax on Schedule H (Form 1040) if you paid total cash wages of $1,000 or more in any calendar quarter of 2015 or 2016 to household employees. Also, report any income tax you withheld for your household employees.

April 27 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the last 16 days of March.

April 29 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the first 15 days of April.

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