Janice and Bill: Penalized, but grateful for assistance

Tax clients Janice and BillJanice, a resident of South Hills, has worked as a nursing assistant for two decades. The hours involved often made tax season difficult for her, especially because many tax sites have limited hours that don’t line up with her availability.

That’s why when a friend told her this year about Just Harvest, she was glad to learn that we have available appointments six days a week from morning to evening.

Janice came to Just Harvest with Bill, her husband of five years. They were disappointed to find out their lack of health insurance resulted in a penalty on their tax return, but appreciated their preparer explaining what had happened. They were happy to learn that due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017,  the penalty would not exist next year.

The penalty was an Affordable Care Act measure designed to push people lacking coverage (with some exceptions) to purchase it. Healthy people (who are only one illness or accident away from needing medical care) would thereby cover the costs of those with current health problems. This “individual mandate” would also protect the uninsured from the financially ruinous event of suddenly needing coverage but not having it.

The ACA intended for subsidies to help people afford purchasing coverage, and for Medicaid to be expanded to cover more people. But state governments and the Trump administration have blocked that needed assistance.

“The federal government took away the tax penalty for being uninsured,” said our tax program coordinator Barbara Jakab, “but didn’t do anything to ensure access to insurance.” Clearly, our health system’s rising costs must be addressed, and it must be a basic right to receive medical treatment without going into debt.

While at the South Side location, they were also excited to learn about Just Harvest’s other community resources like voter registration and food stamps screening. It’s important to them that their communities have access to the resources that help them thrive.

Janice and Bill look forward to getting back their return so they can complete the repairs for their car and motorcycle. They also plan to put part of their return toward a vacation to Niagara Falls.

We wish the best to the happy couple!

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