The 2013 and 2014 tax years for both individuals and small to mid-size companies will be very confusing and frustrating. Not only are there big changes in play with regards to health insurance coverage being enforced through the tax code, there are also other regular tax changes in motion as well. Keeping track of all the changes and the related deadlines, some of them taking effect on January 1, 2014, will inevitably cause some taxpayers and filers to make mistakes. As a result, articles and writing produced on the topic has to be vetted for accuracy and correct facts more than ever during this latest cycle.
The Affordable Care Act
Passed by Congress in 2010, the ACA requires everyone to essentially have health coverage in place. Most people will obtain care through an employer. Those who don’t will be expected to have a policy in place through a state health care exchange by January 1, 2014. Individuals who don’t have coverage must pay a tax penalty when it comes time to file a tax return, which will be triggered by a health care plan value stated on one’s W-2 form for 2014. Low income filers may be eligible for coverage subsidies.
Employers will also have to ensure their staff are covered under health care policies. Those with at least 50 full-time employees must either provide coverage or pay a tax penalty. Some may feel the penalty is the lower cost and will push employees to get their own coverage through exchanges instead of covering them.
Tax Deduction and Bracket Changes
The tax deduction and credit world will see more tweaking. Changes include:
- Medical expenses must now meet 10 percent of adjusted gross income instead of 7.5 percent to be claimed.
- Flexible savings account deposits are capped at $2,500 in 2013, reducing what can be diverted to non-taxable income.
- Upper income earners over $200,000 annually can expect to pay 0.9 percent more in Medicare taxes as well as 3.8 percent more in investment taxes.
Because there are so many moving pieces with the new tax changes noted above, tax writing and financial website content for advice and guidance websites will need to be clear, concise, and structured. Bullet lists are critical for easy breakdown and scanning, but they also need to be organized by related groupings to be useful. Otherwise the tax information will read like giant, overwhelming brain dump to a reader. Further, many readers will need more than just a summary, so linking to actual, valid references will be critical. Ideally, finding a clear IRS webpage on a topic is best, but even that can be a challenge when getting into the technical tax weeds.
Authors and content providers will need to actively vet their tax materials to stay on top of the details. Many sites will realize heavy traffic as people reference guidance, especially at the last minute, and those sites with accurate, helpful information will be able to leverage the hits for advertising if the information is correct and useful.
Tom L is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.