Those who do not have medical insurance will once again be penalized on their 2020 taxes, according to Paj Kane, coordinator of Siskiyou County’s VITA Site, which provides free tax preparation for eligible citizens.

“We just had a trainer from the Franchise Tax Board ... confirm the information that California will reenact the mandate to require health insurance and the Shared Responsibility Payment (penalty) or qualify for an exemption in 2020,” Kane said. “There will be no penalties imposed for 2019 but on 2020 returns there will be. Uninsured persons should seek coverage now.”

Kane added that California has “greatly increased the subsidies to make it more affordable for everyone, even families in the middle income level.”

Covered California’s open-enrollment period runs through Jan. 31. People can easily find out if they are eligible for financial help and see which plans are available in their area by entering their ZIP code, household income and the ages of those who need coverage into Covered California’s Shop and Compare Tool.

If someone applies before the deadline, their coverage won’t start until March 1. However, there is a “short coverage gap” exemption – when you are uninsured less than three consecutive months of the year, which can be used to avoid the penalty for the first two months of non-coverage, Kane explained.

Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said, “We do not want Californians to face a penalty; we want them to have quality health insurance that gives them access to some of the best doctors and facilities in the nation.”

For those facing a penalty, a family of four could pay at least $2,000 for not having health insurance, according to a Covered California press release.

Governor Gavin Newsom and the state legislature made new financial help available to eligible consumers to help further lower the cost of their coverage. More than 560,000 Californians have already qualified for the new state subsidies, according to the release.

Those interested in learning more about their coverage options can:

• Visit

• Get free and confidential in-person assistance, in a variety of languages, from a certified enroller.

• Have a certified enroller call them and help them for free.

Call Covered California at (800) 300-1506 for more information.

About VITA

JEDI VITA volunteers have prepared more than 5,000 tax returns since the site’s inception in 2005 and now uses the drop off method for tax preparation. No appointment is necessary.

There are three locations for drop off, one in Mount Shasta and two in Yreka. Siskiyou County residents are welcome to use either location, said Kane.

Drop off in Mount Shasta is every Friday from 1 to 4 p.m. at the JEDI office, 205 Chestnut Street which includes a 30 minute intake interview. The return is prepared during the week and ready for pick up the following Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. Pick up also requires 30 minutes for a quality review of the return. The first day for drop off is Jan. 31 and the final drop off date is April 8.

In Yreka, taxpayers can drop off their tax documents at the Senior Center at 810 N. Oregon Street on Feb. 12, March 4 and April 1. Taxpayers may also drop off at the Yreka Community Resource Center at 201 S. Broadway on Feb. 4, March 3 and March 31. Drop off is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at both Yreka locations. Pick up is the following week between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Yreka taxpayers must RSVP in case of inclement weather. Call the VITA Tax Line at 888-926-6670, Option 5 to leave your name, phone number, date and location of drop off.

Taxpayers must bring the following documents to have their taxes prepared: Social Security cards or ITIN Notices for all individuals on the return, proof of identification for self and spouse, all forms W2 and 1099, information for other income, information for all deductions and credits, a copy of last year’s tax return (if available), routing number and account number for direct deposit or direct debit, total paid to daycare provider, their tax ID, address and phone number, and finally, Forms 1095 A, B, or C (health insurance documents).

“It is very important to bring all the necessary documents,” said Kane. “If Married Filing Joint, both taxpayer and spouse must sign the e-file authorization form.”

For more information on the VITA program check the website, call the JEDI Tax Line at 888-926-6670, Option 5, email or go to