By Elise Viebeck - 01/08/15 09:59 AM EST
The Obama administration is trying to head off confusion related to ObamaCare's first tax season by providing online resources to consumers preparing to file their returns.
The joint effort, announced Thursday by the Treasury and the Health and Human Services departments, promises consumer outreach online and in communities as well as partnerships with tax preparers.
"A fraction of taxpayers will take different steps, like claiming an exemption if they could not afford insurance. … We are working to ensure that whatever their experience, consumers can easily access clear information since this is the first year they will see certain changes to their tax returns."
The announcement comes amid a steady drumbeat of news stories about changes for tax filers looming under ObamaCare.
This year marks the first tax filing season in which people will have to disclose whether they had health insurance in 2014. Those who do not receive an exemption will have to pay a fine.
Additionally, people who enrolled in marketplace coverage will be responsible for filing out a brand new tax form — Form 1095-A — to ensure their insurance subsidy amount is up to date. Some might also owe money to the government if their income changed during the year.
Tax preparers have warned that the public is unprepared for these changes. H&R Block predicted that 25 million to 30 million people will be affected by the new policies, and opened its doors for 12 hours straight on Thursday to provide free ObamaCare tax analysis to consumers.
The administration emphasized that most people will simply have to check a box on their tax return showing they had health coverage.
Officials also suggested that many people will qualify for exemptions under the individual mandate this year.
"We will also be providing helpful tools so that the millions of taxpayers who qualify for an exemption can receive one," HHS Secretary Sylvia BurwellSylvia Mathews BurwellOvernight Healthcare: McConnell unveils new Zika package | Manchin defends daughter on EpiPens | Bill includes M for opioid crisis Insurance executives ask for changes to ObamaCare Obama meets with insurance CEOs on health law MORE said in a statement.