The following is a frequently asked question recently released by CMS regarding the Marketplace and Income Verification for the purpose of advance payment of the premium tax credit and cost sharing reductions.
Q: Will Marketplaces verify the income of consumers as part of the eligibility process for advance payments of the premium tax credit and cost sharing reductions?
A: Yes. The Marketplaces will use data from tax filings and Social Security data to verify household income provided on an application, and in many cases, will also use current wage information that is available electronically. The multi-step process will begin when an applicant applies for insurance affordability programs (such as the advance payments of the premium tax credit and cost sharing reductions) through the Marketplace and affirms or inputs their projected annual household income. The applicant’s inputted projected annual household income is then compared with information available from the IRS and Social Security Administration (SSA). If the data submitted as part of the application process cannot be verified using IRS and SSA data, then the information is compared with wage information from employers provided by Equifax. If Equifax data does not substantiate the inputted information, the Marketplace will request an explanation or additional documentation to substantiate the applicant’s household income.
When documentation is requested, the Affordable Care Act and implementing regulations specify that if an applicant meets all other eligibility requirements, he/she will be provided with eligibility for advance payments of premium tax credit and cost sharing reductions based on the inputted projected annual household income for 90 days (which may be extended based on good faith), provided that the tax filer attests to the Marketplace that he/she understands that any advance payments of the premium tax credit paid on his/her behalf are subject to reconciliation. If documentation is requested and is not provided within the specified timeframe, regulations specify that the Marketplace will base its eligibility determination on IRS and SSA data, unless IRS data is unavailable. In this case, the Marketplace will discontinue any advance payments of the premium tax credit and cost sharing reductions.
Please note that applicants for advance payment of the premium tax credit and cost sharing reductions must attest, under penalty of perjury, that they are not providing false or fraudulent information. In addition to the existing penalties for perjury, the Affordable Care Act applies penalties when an individual fails to provide correct information based on negligence or disregard of program rules, or knowingly and willfully provides false or fraudulent info. Moreover, the IRS has said they will reconcile advance payments of the premium tax credit when consumers file their annual tax returns at the end of the year, and it will recoup overpayments and provide refunds when appropriate, subject to statutory limits.