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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A gift to you this tax day

Erin Kelly

Staff Writer

It’s that dreaded time of year that only those of us who are guaranteed a big return are excited for: Yesterday was tax day. But please bear with us for a moment, because this tax day, we’ve got good news for you.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, many Americans will soon be receiving tax credits to help them pay for health care. That’s right. Due to the historic health care law that President Obama signed more than a year ago, American families will be able to afford health care and will receive tax credits to help them do so.

The tax credits, which will go into effect in 2014, will help Americans up to four times the federal poverty level afford insurance. According to a recent report by Families USA, an estimated 28.6 million Americans will receive this tax credit.

So who exactly is eligible for this tax break?

The majority of those eligible are from working families—with at least one family member who is working full-time. If the tax credits were available this year, families of four with incomes between $29,726 and $89,400 would be eligible—in other words, low-income and middle-class families will be helped disproportionately. What’s more, more than half of those eligible currently work for small businesses.

For hard-working Americans who have struggled for years to afford the cost of sky-rocketing premiums, this is a huge help.

Additionally, many of those who are eligible are Americans who have previously not been able to afford insurance, typically because their employer doesn’t offer coverage or because premiums in the individual market were too expensive. According to the report, nearly 13.8 million uninsured people will be able to purchase coverage.

These tax credits will be a big asset to struggling families who have been unable to keep up with rising health care costs.

And did we mention that many Americans don’t even have to wait until 2014 for tax credits? Starting this year, businesses with fewer than 25 workers and average wages of less than $50,000 will be eligible for a tax credit so that they can provide health insurance for their employees.

Unfortunately, all of these great benefits are at risk. If the Republicans get their way and the Affordable Care Act is repealed, 28.6 million Americans will lose these critical tax credits, meaning their taxes will be raised and many will no longer be able to afford health care coverage. While the far right is busy playing politics with hard-working Americans’ tax credits and health benefits, struggling families are trying to make ends meet. For many hard-working Americans, that’s a lose-lose situation.

So on tax day this year, we will continue to fight hard to ensure that those who have been left out of the system for decades before, will now receive the help that they need to afford quality, affordable health care.