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IRS kicks off tax-filing season, offers Obamacare advice

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Internal Revenue Service said on Thursday 2015 tax-filing season would kick off this week and it is offering taxpayers online advice on how to deal with Obamacare.

IRS online tax preparation will be available as of Friday and taxpayers will have until April 15 to file their tax returns and pay any tax due. The IRS said it expects to receive about 150 million individual income tax returns this year, with most of them being filed electronically.

The agency said it will begin accepting and processing all tax returns, electronic and paper, on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

Under President Barack Obama’s new healthcare system, more than 75 percent of taxpayers will check a new box on their returns to verify they have health coverage. Those without coverage will have to claim an exemption or pay a fee.

Obama’s Affordable Care Act also means taxpayers who bought coverage through one of the new health insurance marketplaces will get a new Form 1095-A by early February. It will contain information needed to complete the tax return.

Taxpayers who got an advance premium tax credit to help them pay for Obamacare coverage must file a tax return to make sure they were entitled to that assistance based on their actual incomes. The new Form 8962 will be used to do that.

Advice is available online at IRS.gov/aca, the agency said, cautioning that phoning for help could mean long waits because IRS staffing is down due to budget cuts made by Congress.

Nevertheless, the agency said it expects to issue more than 90 percent of refunds due within 21 days of receiving a return.

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