Calif. tax preparers paid bounty for every Obamacare sign-up

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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Tax-preparing companies are getting paid by an Obamacare exchange to enroll people in Obamacare plans, The Daily Caller has learned.

At least 79 tax service providers, including offices of major companies like Liberty Tax Service and Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, are listed as certified Obamacare enrollment entities in the state of California, according to state exchange records.

California’s Obamacare exchange, Covered California, pays enrollment entities for signing people up for Obamacare.

“Certified Enrollment Entities are paid a flat-fee of $58 per successful application and $25 per successful annual renewal,” according to California Health Benefit Advisers. “The Enrollment Entities compensate the individual Enrollment Counselors.”

Certified Enrollment Entities in California include multiple offices of Liberty Tax Service and an Inglewood office of Jackson Hewitt Tax Service. Certified Enrollment Entities can include “non-profit community organizations,” labor unions, tax preparers, community clinics and other kinds of groups.

Jackson Hewitt conducted a detailed survey sent to clients who used its tax services asking how well the company did in helping people sign up for Obamacare ahead of April 15, according to a customer who said that a Jackson Hewitt office in Florida was principally focused on Obamacare enrollment efforts during his/her visit.

“Jackson Hewitt is conducting a national study among recent clients asking for their opinions regarding the service they received,” according to information sent to customers by the marketing and research firm Smari and obtained by TheDC. “Your confidential answers will help Jackson Hewitt provide exceptional service to their customers. To ensure that results remain confidential, Jackson Hewitt has asked SMARI, a national research firm, to conduct the survey on their behalf.”

“For fully completing the survey you will be entered into a drawing to win one of 10 cash prizes worth $50 each!” according to information sent to customers by SMARI. “Please take a moment to take this survey as soon as possible while your experience with Jackson Hewitt is still fresh in your memory. Remember, your individual responses will be kept confidential, and that no sales will result from your participation.”

President Barack Obama announced that Obamacare enrollments had hit 8 million on April 17 — two days after the federal tax filing deadline.

Jackson Hewitt and its Inglewood office did not immediately return requests for comment. Covered California did not immediately provide information about how many enrollment fees have been paid to tax-preparing services in the state.

A spokesman for Liberty Tax Service told TheDC by phone Monday that some California franchises have gained certification as Enrollment Entities and that franchises nationwide are seeking the status as well.

Covered California has received several hundred million dollars in federal government funding.

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Patrick Howley