06-24-2018  3:49 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

NEWS BRIEFS

AG Rosenblum Seeks Info from Oregonians

Oregon Attorney General seeks information on children separated from families at border ...

Community Forum: How Does Law Enforcement Interact With Vulnerable Populations?

Forum will focus on public safety and examine mental health and addiction issues ...

King County Council Recognizes Juneteenth

The Metropolitan King County Council recognizes a true 'freedom day' in the United States ...

Unite Oregon Hosts ‘Mourn Pray Love, and Take Action’ June 20

Community is invited to gather at Terry Schrunk Plaza at 6 p.m. on World Refugee Day ...

MRG Foundation Announces Spring 2018 Grantees

Recipients include Oregon DACA Coalition, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, Komemma Cultural Protection Association ...

18-year-old driver dies after colliding with log truck

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon State Police say an 18-year-old girl has died after colliding with a log truck on Highway 101 near Beaver.Law enforcement officials say Mikayla Michelle Howard was driving a 2003 Saab when it crossed into the other lane for an unknown reason on Friday morning....

Marion County deputies investigating suspicious death

LYONS, Ore. (AP) — Law enforcement officials are investigating after a man was found dead in a pond near his home in Lyons.The Marion County Sheriff's Office says deputies were called to the scene Saturday afternoon after the body was found. Detectives also responded to the scene because the...

New Mexico residents to testify on atomic bomb fallout

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Residents of a New Mexico Hispanic village near the site of the world's first atomic bomb test say they were long ignored about the lingering health effects and were expected to share their stories with Congress.The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium plans to...

Small plane hits car after missing runway near Snohomish

SNOHOMISH, Wash. (AP) — A small plane hit a car after overshooting the runway at an airfield near Snohomish.The Seattle Times reports that three people, including a child, were in a single-engine plane when it was approaching the Harvey Air Field on Saturday.Lt. Rick Hawkins of the Snohomish...

OPINION

How Washington’s 'School Achievement Index' Became School Spending Index

New assessment categorizes schools not by quality of education, but level of funding officials believe they should receive ...

Black Mamas Are Dying. We Can Stop It.

Congresswoman Robin Kelly plans to improve access to culturally-competent care with the MOMMA Act ...

Hey, Elected Officials: No More Chicken Dinners...We Need Policy

Jeffrey Boney says many elected officials who visit the Black community only during the election season get a pass for doing nothing ...

Juneteenth: Freedom's Promise Still Denied

Juneteenth is a celebration of the de facto end of slavery, but the proliferation of incarceration keeps liberation unfulfilled ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Authorities investigating fatal Minneapolis police shooting

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota state authorities are investigating after Minneapolis police shot and killed a black man they say was firing a handgun as he walked outside.People gathered for a Sunday afternoon protest at a police station and a vigil near the north Minneapolis shooting scene...

Jews, Muslims in Berlin team up on bike rides against hatred

BERLIN (AP) — Some 25 Jews and Muslims rode tandem bicycles through the German capital on Sunday in a protest against growing anti-Semitism and attacks on Muslims in the country.Some were rabbis and imams, others included women in headscarves and Jewish community members donning skullcaps...

Association removes Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from award

CHICAGO (AP) — A division of the American Library Association has voted to remove Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from a major children's book award over concerns with how the early-to-mid 20th century author portrayed blacks and Native Americans.The Association for Library Service to Children's...

ENTERTAINMENT

Brigitte Nielsen, 54, has given birth to her fifth child

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Brigitte Nielsen says she has given birth at age 54.The model, actress and reality star and her 39-year-old husband Mattia Dessi released a statement to People magazine Saturday saying their daughter Frida was born Friday in Los Angeles and weighed 5 pounds, 9 ounces (2.3...

Association removes Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from award

CHICAGO (AP) — A division of the American Library Association has voted to remove Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from a major children's book award over concerns with how the early-to-mid 20th century author portrayed blacks and Native Americans.The Association for Library Service to Children's...

'Jurassic World' sequel stomps its way to 0 million debut

NEW YORK (AP) — The dinosaurs still rule the box office."Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" surpassed expectations to open with 0 million in ticket sales in U.S. and Canada theaters over the weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. While that total didn't approach the record-breaking...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

US restaurants host refugee chefs who offer a taste of home

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — At San Francisco's Tawla restaurant, Muna Anaee powdered her hands with flour and...

UK euroskeptics urge PM May to prepare for 'no deal' Brexit

LONDON (AP) — Pro-Brexit politicians and business figures have urged British Prime Minister Theresa May to...

Roseanne Barr in interview: 'I made myself a hate magnet'

NEW YORK (AP) — In an emotional interview, Roseanne Barr said she definitely feels remorse for the racist...

Switzerland awaits FIFA judgment on 'provocative' gestures

MOSCOW (AP) — Despite goal celebrations seen as inflaming political tensions with Serbia, the head of...

Sweden player condemns racist abuse after World Cup loss

KRASNODAR, Russia (AP) — Sweden midfielder Jimmy Durmaz says the racist abuse aimed at him over social...

DJ Calvin Harris stoked by Harry Kane nod to 'One Kiss'

NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia (AP) — Harry Kane led England into the round of 16 at the World Cup then gave a nod...

income tax forms
Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — As the April 15 tax deadline nears, people who got help paying for health insurance under President Barack Obama's law are seeing the direct effect on their refunds — hundreds of dollars, for better or worse.

The law offers tax credits so people without access to job-based health insurance can buy private coverage. Because these subsidies are tied to income, consumers must accurately estimate what they will make for the coming year.

That's been a challenge for millions of people.

Guess on the low side, get more help now with premiums, but owe money later at filing time. Overestimate income, expect bucks back from the taxman.

Many consumers may not have understood that is how it works when they signed up. Some experts caution that such complications could discourage uninsured people from getting covered.

Rob Tuck of Dublin, California, said he had anticipated a refund of about $400 on his 2014 taxes. But that almost has been wiped out because he had to repay some of the subsidy. He changed jobs during the year, and his income went up a little.

Tuck, who works for a San Francisco area tech-support company, said he enrolled to avoid tax penalties for being uninsured, but feels penalized anyway now.

"I was expecting to get dinged a little bit, but I was actually kind of surprised when it came down that much," he said.

Kelsey Park started out 2014 in Dallas, earning good commissions by selling wedding gowns. She left for graduate school at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and signed up for coverage through the law. She ended up overestimating her income because she didn't get another job as anticipated.

Park's tax refund came to $2,500, partly because she had too much income tax withheld and partly because she received a smaller health care subsidy than she was entitled to.

"It was hard to estimate what I would be earning because I was transitioning in life," said Park, who's studying for a master's degree in marketing. "I tend to overestimate because I don't want to have to pay back," she said.

The average refund is large enough to offset any repayment in most cases, according to the Treasury Department. The White House says the Affordable Care Act is working even better than anticipated.

But this is the first year that the complicated connections between the law and the tax system are playing out for consumers.

Initial reports suggest a fairly even split between tax-return winners and losers.

Earlier in the filing season, tax preparation company H&R Block reported that 52 percent of its customers who got health insurance subsidies owed money back. Repayments averaged $530, reducing expected refunds by 17 percent.

On the other hand, roughly one-third of customers with subsidies overestimated their incomes. As a result, their refunds went up by $365 on average.

In a recent study, the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that half those eligible for a subsidy would owe money, while 45 percent would receive a bigger refund.

The estimated average repayment was $794, and the refund was $773. The estimates were based on an analysis of census data about income changes among people likely eligible for health care subsidies.

Kaiser calculated that overall between 4.5 million and 7.5 million households have to account to the IRS for their subsidies.

This year is "a learning experience" for consumers and the government alike, said Kaiser's Cynthia Cox. "To the extent this makes people unsure of how much financial help they are going to get, it could be a discouragement for some to sign up."

To avoid tax surprises, consumers should contact the health insurance exchange if their income changes during the year.

Tucker Bush, an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in Tacoma, Washington, basically broke even. He ended up giving back $19 of his subsidy, but not before he had spent an hour trying to figure out IRS Form 8962, which taxpayers must use to account for their subsidies.

"It caused me a little bit of a headache, and I have a college degree," said Bush, who volunteers at a nonprofit dental clinic for children. "If you are trying to help someone who may not have a college diploma, this is going to be a nightmare."

Bill Preus of St. Petersburg, Florida, was covered under the health care law for three months last year before transitioning to Medicare because of disability. Preus once had his own insurance agency, selling life and health policies. He is used to complexity, but said he never has seen anything like this.

Preus said he faces the prospect of paying back close to $4,000 because of poor coordination between HealthCare.gov and his insurer, the government's failure to discontinue his health law subsidy after he went on Medicare, and forgiveness of a student loan debt that caused his income to go up.

"There is no one to talk to who can coordinate when extenuating circumstances like this come up, and it's a total mess," he said.

Preus said a tax preparer and an IRS representative both advised him to file an incomplete return so as to trigger an audit, suggesting that may be the best way to straighten things out.

Associated Press Social Media Editor Eric Carvin contributed to this report.

 

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Carpentry Professionals
Portland Community Policing
Calendar

Photo Gallery

Photos and slide shows of local events

Lents International Farmers Market
The Skanner Report

The Skanner Foundation Scholarships