- Days left

WalletPop experts answer your questions about healthcare and tax prep

Question mark girlWith so many changes in healthcare and taxes these days, it's prudent to plan ahead and talk to as many experts as you can before bills come due. WalletPop experts are on hand to help. Here, they tackle questions on shopping for a new medical plan and finding the right accountant.

My retired parents, who live in Virginia, need my help in finding them a new health care plan. They require a lot of medication, and their current insurance only covers generic versions of their pills. My father needs one medicine to be the name brand. How can I help them while I live in New York? What if I switch plans and the new insurance company decides not to cover the name brand after all? Is there any protection for my parents?
-- Maria, Brooklyn
, N.Y.

Answer from Josh King, general counsel for Avvo, a free online legal directory
There's nothing in the new healthcare law that limits or controls pricing or coverage for name-brand pharmaceuticals. However, if you find a plan that covers the medicine you need now, it's unlikely to change down the road. While you may not have a law protecting you, customer pressure and the fact that medicine usually loses pricing power as newer remedies become available will likely lead to coverage being retained. You should also explore whether the medicine is cheaper via a Canadian pharmacy.

My wife and I got hit with a large tax bill last tax season. We would like to avoid another one. We've been told to work with an accountant. How do I know if he or she is a good one?
--Ace, New York City

Answer from John A. Tracy, CPA, Ph.D., author of Accounting for Dummies

The first thing to look for is whether the person is a Certified Public Accountant. If the person is holding himself/herself out publicly as a CPA, the odds are pretty good that he or she is in fact a licensed CPA. If you have any doubt about this, you can access the list of CPAs maintained by the state you reside in. All states maintain a website where you can find this information.

If the person is not a CPA, things get more complicated. There are many other credentials -- some of which mean something and some of which do not. If you are using the accountant primarily for income tax, the IRS has recently adopted more stringent rules and regulations governing tax preparers. You can find these at the IRS website. Ask the accountant about his/her standing regarding the latest IRS regulations.

Also, you can ask for a list of references from the accountant and contact three of four of these to see whether or not they are satisfied with the accounting services offered. Be sure to press these references for information regarding whether the accountant tolerates (or encourages) "creative" accounting methods. Assuming you are an honest person, of course, you do not want to get involved with an accountant who is not honest and law abiding.

Got a question for our experts? Send in a comment and we'll get on it.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

How Financial Planners go Grocery Shopping

Learn to shop smart and save.

View Course »

Economics 101

Intro to economics. But fun.

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

Video: Tax Guidelines About Gifting

Note: Some of the content of this video applies only to taxes prepared prior to 2012. It is included here for reference only. Find out the tax guidelines about gifting with help from TurboTax in this video on tax tips.

Video: What are Income Tax Rates?

Note: The content of this video applies only to taxes prepared for 2010. It is included here for reference only. Income tax rates change depending on both the amount of money you make and how you made it. Find out about income tax rates with help from TurboTax in this video on tax tips.

Video: How To Reduce Errors on Your Tax Return

Did you know that errors on your tax return can affect the amount of your tax bill and the amount of time it takes to get a refund? Fortunately, TurboTax helps you avoid errors AND be sure you're getting all the tax deductions and credits you deserve.

Does Your Company Need to File Form 1095-B?

A company is responsible for filing IRS Form 1095-B only if two conditions apply: It offers health coverage to its employees, and it is "self-insured." This means that the company itself pays its employees' medical bills, rather than an insurance company. A company that doesn't meet both conditions won't have to deal with Form 1095-B. Its employees might still receive a 1095-B, but from their insurer, not the employer.

Video: Who Qualifies for an Affordable Care Act Exemption (Obamacare)?

The Affordable Care Act requires all Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty. But, who qualifies for an Affordable Care Act exemption? Find out more about who qualifies for an exemption from the Affordable Care Act tax penalty, how to claim an exemption on your tax return and how the Affordable Care Act may affect your taxes with this video from TurboTax.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum