How Obamacare could delay your tax refund

If you're one of the almost 6 million individuals who received a government subsidy toward the health insurance you bought on Healthcare.gov or your state's insurance exchange, then prepare for a possible delay in processing your 2014 tax return and refund.

That's because folks who bought subsidized health insurance will receive a new tax form called Form 1095-A Health Insurance Marketplace Statement. The insurance exchanges are supposed to provide these forms.

The problem is it's unclear whether the processing steps for this form have been finalized. In the past, whenever new forms and processing procedures aren't finalized and changes are made late in the year, delays in filings and tax refunds almost always occurred.

The 1095-A is scheduled to be in taxpayers' hands by Jan. 31. It should include the total monthly premiums you paid, the monthly tax credits or subsidies applied toward those premiums and the premiums for the second-lowest-cost Silver Plan.

Those receiving a 1095-A are supposed to use the information on it to complete another new tax form, the Form 8962 Premium Tax Credit, which you need to claim the remaining amount of any unapplied subsidies as a tax refund on your 2014 tax return. So, think of the Form 1095-A as a form W-2, or 1099, and the Form 8692 as a Schedule A.

Now back to the potential delay. The final version of 1095-A should be on the IRS website and be making its way to online and computer-based tax prep programs.

Unfortunately, delayed tax refunds could affect the tax filers who can least afford it, those with lower incomes (these government subsidies are phased out for higher incomes) who typically receive sizable tax refunds. So, a delay in getting a refund can cause financial hardship for a lot of people.

If your tax refund is likely to be delayed because of these new forms, don't turn to a tax refund anticipation loan to get your refund faster. These loans come with high interest rates and fees that aren't worth it. Instead use e-File and elect to have your refund directly deposited into your bank account. That cuts the average wait time from six weeks or so to as little as two weeks.

And if these new forms are overwhelming, don't go it alone. The big tax prep firms, such as H&R Block and online tax-prep titan TurboTax, should be ready to handle this. This is another good reason having a professional firm prepare your taxes is a good idea.