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Avoid Scammers Who Demand Phony Healthcare Tax Payments

If you’re seeking help completing your business or individual tax return this year, choose your tax professional carefully. Last year, taxpayers reported several unscrupulous preparers to the IRS, according to its periodic “alerts.”

We recently posted a blog to help you select a knowledgeable preparer, and this IRS news only heightens the need to choose a qualified, trusted expert.

In some cases, preparers told clients to make individual shared responsibility payments directly to that preparer, even if taxpayers bought Medicaid or other health coverage. With this coverage, the taxpayer wasn’t required to make the shared responsibility payment.

In specific areas of the country, dishonest preparers targeted taxpayers with limited English proficiency and, in particular, who primarily spoke Spanish.

Most people don’t owe this payment because they purchase health coverage or qualify for a coverage exemption. However, if you owe this shared responsibility payment, remember to pay it only with your tax return or in response to a letter from the IRS. Never compensate an individual or preparer directly with this payment.

Tax professionals who inappropriately ask for direct payment use a variety of invalid reasons, including:

  • telling individuals they must make an individual shared responsibility payment directly to the preparer because of immigration status,
  • promising to lower the payment amount if it’s paid directly to the preparer, and
  • demanding money from individuals exempt from the individual shared responsibility payment.

If you’re not a U.S. citizen or national, or not lawfully present in the United States, you’re exempt from the individual shared responsibility provision and do not need to pay. You may qualify for this exemption even if you possess a social security number.

Use the IRS’ Interactive Tax Assistant tool to help determine if you qualify for an exemption or owe the payment.

If you believe an unscrupulous preparer targeted or financially affected you by his or her misconduct or improper tax preparation practices, report it to the IRS on Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer.

If you’re looking for well-informed, ethical certified public accountants who can help you with your tax needs, contact the Patrick & Robinson CPAs team: (904) 396-5400 or

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