Why This Blog

I’m self-employed and I’ve always had health insurance.  I’m one of the lucky ones — I never get sick.  I haven’t been to the hospital in 25 years, back in the days when the hospitals were keeping costs low by whisking newly delivered mothers out the door, baby in hand, within 36 hours of their arrival.  A second night in the hospital? Nope, it wasn’t covered back then.

In any case, buying insurance on the individual market is easy enough if you never actually ask the insurance company to spend any money on you.  I had a policy,  I was happy. Continue reading

The tax software mess continues (for tax year 2015 returns)

Last year, I was was surprised and disappointed when various tax software programs seemed to fail when it came to correctly reconciling the self-employed health insurance deduction with the premium tax credit.  TurboTax seemed to come closest to getting things right, and H&R Block never did figure it out.

I had been an H&R Block user for ages, but got a refund from them and shifted to TurboTax.   This year I stuck with TurboTax… though quite frankly  I am not a fan of the software.

But I did assume that with another year to sort out all the glitches, the software packages would all have it things figured out by the time 2016 rolled around.

However, it seems that my assumption was unwarranted.  Already the glitches are a subject of puzzlement and debate.

So I’m creating this new post as a place for comments concerning the ins and outs of the software.

H&R Block Product Refund Update

Still waiting…..

I requested a refund from H&R Block for the cost of their software program on 3/30/15, because of the program’s inability to handle the self-employed health care deduction for taxpayers who are buying off the exchange.   I had purchased and downloaded the software directly from H&R Block on 12/30/14.

I was initially told that my request needed to be handled by their “escalations” or 3rd tier refund department, and my request would be handled within 48-72 business hours. However, no refund — I called today to inquire and was told that that my request was still in the queue and the escalations/3rd tier refund had not yet responded; that no time frame could be promised; and that once the refund request was processed, it could take 4-6 weeks for the refund to be provided.  I also had to wait on hold for about 2 hours for my call to be answered.

Fortunately, my credit card company is much, much nicer.  I contacted them to register a dispute over the credit card charge. No hold time at all.  They promised gave me an immediate “temporary” credit to my account. They will give gave the merchant (H&R Block) three calendar days to respond to the dispute, and then issue issued a chargeback. They immediately credited my account with the full amount pending resolution of the dispute, and charged the amount back to H&R Block 5 days later.

So at this point, it looks like I’ve got my money back, whether or not H&R Block agrees.

I’ve also e-filed all my taxes with TurboTax.


Update, May 2015:  H&R Block did also send me a paper refund check for the cost of the software, which arrived in late April. As I had already received the value of the refund when my credit card issued the charge back, I did not deposit the H&R Block check.   But basically, they did what they said they were going to do, but it took longer than I was willing to wait.

Another Tax Update: Harry Sit’s “bakeoff”

Blogger Harry Sit has reviewed the 3 most popular tax software packages, employing a simple test to gauge accuracy of calculations of self employed health insurance deduction and premium tax credit.  His review confirms what our contributors have collectively determined:

  • TaxAct:  Works; closely replicates IRS example, with slight discrepancy due to rounding.
  • TurboTax: Works; closely replicates IRS example, with slight discrepancy due to rounding. However, taxpayers who also need to prepare a Schedule C will need to purchase the highest price, “Home & Business Edition”.
  • H&R Block: Total fail. Users are advised that the software package does not include necessary features to prepare tax returns for self employed taxpayers who have purchased insurance via an exchange.

Read the whole post at The Finance Buff

The TurboTax Test: It works.

(…And I’ll tell you how)

Well, today is April Fool’s Day — but this post is no joke.

I’m a long time H&R Block user– but H&R Block essentially bit the dust when it didn’t manage to include the ability to reconcile the self employed health insurance deductions with exchange premium credit eligibility:  all self-employed taxpayers who bought policies from Healthcare.gov or their state exchange during 2014 are out of luck.   We’re greeted with a message that the software can’t do our taxes this year.

So off I went to buy new software.  This isn’t a good year for TurboTax users either, because this it the year that TurboTax changed it’s program and pricing policies.  If you want to have the program prepare a Schedule C, you’ve got to buy the highest price “Home and Business” edition — listed at $104.99 on the TurboTax softeare for the online product;  $99.99 for the  downloadable software.

But with a little shopping around I saved $35 — Amazon Prime members can download the software for $64.99, at least for now. Other retailers, such as Costco, also offering similar discounts.  Continue reading

H&R Block Fail Part 2:


This is the message that shows up in HR Block Software after the most recent (March 26) update.

This message shows up EVEN IF the taxpayer is NOT entitled to ANY tax credit. In my case, because of unanticipated non-earned income during 2014 (a capital gain from sale of assets) my income is too high to qualify for the tax credit, and I will have to pay the full clawback amount.

Continue reading

H&R Block: Total Fail

Users of H&R Block report receiving this message when attempting to prepare their return after the latest update:

“Since you’re claiming the ACA premium tax credit and the self-employed health insurance deduction, your return requires additional calculations that aren’t part of the program. To file an accurate return, we recommend you complete your return with an H&R Block Tax professional.

You must fix this problem before filing.”

At this point the best option for self-employed taxpayers who are or may be entitled to claim a premium tax credit for exchange-purchased insurance appears to be TurboTax, which appears to calculate amounts correctly.

TaxAct software seems to also be able to handle the correct calculations, so may be an acceptable alternative to H&R Block.


IRS Weighs In

The IRS Publication 954- Premium Tax Credit — is finally available.  Information about calculating the self employment health insurance deduction, including worksheets, can be found on pages 21-37.  This includes detailed instructions for complex situations, so it is worthwhile to read.   The worksheets can also be used to double check results from tax software.

I will be taking some time to review this document and plan to summarize important points in forthcoming posts.