Help Paying Marketplace Premiums: Challenges Estimating Income and Tax Consequences

My income is uneven during the year. Some months I earn very little, other months are much better. I think my annual income will be low enough to qualify for subsidies next year, but I’m not sure. What if I’m wrong?

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It’s common for income to fluctuate, particularly if you are self-employed, perform seasonal work or have multiple jobs. When you apply for subsidies during Open Enrollment, make the best estimate you can of your 2021 annual income.  If your actual income next year turns out to be higher than you estimated, you may have to repay some of the premium tax credit paid on your behalf when you file your 2021 federal income tax return.  On the other hand, if your 2021 income turns out to be lower than you estimated, you will be eligible for an even greater premium tax credit and you’ll be able to claim the difference as a refund when you file your 2021 tax return.

To achieve the most accurate premium tax credit amount, you should report income changes to the health insurance Marketplace during the year, as they happen, and the Marketplace will adjust your premium tax credit for the rest of the year to reflect your income change.  That way, the total amount of premium tax credit that you claim during the year should be pretty accurate.

While we have made every effort to provide accurate information in these FAQs, people should contact the health insurance Marketplace or Medicaid agency in their state for guidance on their specific circumstances.

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