Reporting income and household size

How to estimate your income for the Marketplace

When you fill out a Marketplace application, you’ll answer detailed questions about your income and household members.

You’ll simply answer the questions. The Marketplace does the calculations and tells you what programs and savings you qualify for.

Before you apply, you can make a ballpark estimate of your income to see if you may qualify for savings. This page tells you how.

Important: The Marketplace application makes the final determination of your eligibility for savings. It uses details you provide to develop a figure called “modified adjusted gross income” (MAGI). MAGI is used to determine your eligibility for coverage savings. The method below helps you make only a rough estimate of MAGI. You can use this number whenever a tool on our site asks you to estimate your income for the year. You won’t use this estimate anywhere in the Marketplace application itself.

Remember that you find out your actual eligibility for programs only when you submit a Marketplace application.

How to make a ballpark estimate

Start with your adjusted gross income (AGI). You’ll find this on your most recent federal income tax return. For most people, AGI is very close to or identical to MAGI.

Where to find AGI on IRS tax forms:

  • Form 1040: Line 37
  • Form 1040 EZ: Line 4
  • Form 1040 A: Line 21

Make adjustments to estimate your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). You may have to add or subtract items from your adjusted gross income to estimate your MAGI.

  • Add the following kinds of income, if you have any, to your AGI:

    • Tax-exempt foreign income
    • Tax-exempt Social Security benefits (including tier 1 railroad retirement benefits)
    • Tax-exempt interest
  • Don’t include any Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Now adjust your estimate for 2015. Remember, your eligibility for premium tax credits and out-of-pocket savings is based on your expected income for 2015, not your 2014 figures. So do your best to account for any changes you think will happen in 2015.

  • Consider things like expected raises, new jobs, or other employment changes; higher or lower tax deductions; and changes in income from self-employment.
  • Make sure you include income changes for anyone who’ll be a dependent on your 2015 federal income tax return.
  • Also account for any expected changes to your household, including gaining or losing tax dependents.

Now you have a ballpark estimate of your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). You can use this figure if you want to see plans and prices based on your income before you apply, to see if you may qualify for premium tax credits and other savings, or use other tools outside the Marketplace application that ask you to estimate your income.

Of course you never know what’s going to happen in the coming year. That’s why it’s so important to update your Marketplace application all year whenever you have income or household changes that could affect your coverage.

Estimating your income if you’re unemployed

It’s hard to predict your annual income if you’re unemployed. Still, it’s important to make your best estimate based on all current or expected sources of income for the year, for everyone in your household.

See how to estimate your income if you’re unemployed.

More details on reporting income and household members

More answers

Are income and household rules the same for Marketplace private insurance plans and Medicaid coverage?

There are some differences, depending on your state and other factors. The Marketplace application may ask you specific questions used to determine if you’re eligible for Medicaid. If it looks like anyone in your household qualifies for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance program, we’ll send your application to your state agency. They may ask you for more information. If it turns out you’re eligible, they’ll help you enroll.