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The IRS has issued relief from certain Form 1094-C and 1095-C reporting requirements under the Affordable Care Act relating to employee health plans, as well as relief from certain reporting-related penalties.
As a refresher, the ACA generally requires four forms to be produced each year, and the names are anything but intuitive:
Which form your plan would be required to file or furnish depends on whether you are an ALE, and how you fill out the form and whether you offer fully insured or self-insured coverage.
The IRS has extended the deadline for furnishing Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to individuals. The typical deadline to report 2020 plan information is January 31, 2021. However, the new relief extends the deadline to March 2, 2021. The extension is automatic, and the IRS has indicated that no further extensions will be granted, and it will not respond to such requests.
Be aware that this extension does not apply to the 1094-B and 1094-C filings with the IRS. The deadline for submitting these filings to the IRS will remain March 1, 2021 (since the original due date of February 28 falls on a Sunday), for paper filings and March 31, 2021, for those filing electronically. However, while the automatic extension does not apply to these deadlines, filers may still request an extension from the IRS.
Recognizing that the main purpose of Forms 1095-B and 1095-C was to allow an individual to compute his or her tax liability relating to the individual mandate, and because the individual mandate has been reduced to zero, the IRS has granted relief from furnishing certain documents to individuals.
The IRS indicated that it will not assess penalties for failure to furnish a Form 1095-B if two conditions are met. First, the reporting entity must post a prominent notice on its website stating that individuals may receive a copy of their 2020 Form 1095-B upon request, along with an email address, physical address, and phone number. Second, the reporting entity must furnish the 2020 Form 1095-B to the responsible individual within 30 days of receipt of the request. The statements may be furnished electronically if certain additional requirements are met.
The same reporting relief does not extend to ALEs that are required to furnish Form 1095-C. This form must continue to be furnished to full-time employees, and penalties will continue to be assessed for a failure to furnish Form 1095-C. However, the relief does generally apply to furnishing the Form 1095-C to participants who were not full-time employees for any month of 2019 if the requirements above are met. This would typically include part-time employees, COBRA continuees, or retirees.
Note that while these requirements for furnishing the 1095-B and 1095-C to individuals has been modified, these forms must still be transmitted to the IRS along with their Form 1094 counterparts.
In the final piece of good news from the IRS, it announced relief from penalties for incorrect or incomplete information on any of these forms. This relief applies to both missing and inaccurate taxpayer identification numbers and birthdays, as well as other required information.
The reporting entity must be able to show that it made a good faith effort to comply with the reporting requirements. A successful showing of good faith will show that an employer made reasonable efforts to prepare for the reporting requirements and the furnishing to employees, such as gathering and transmitting the necessary information to the person preparing the forms.
However, the relief does not apply to reporting entities that completely fail to file or furnish the forms at all.
Finally, and importantly, the IRS has indicated that this will be the last year that it will provide this good faith reporting relief.
The Affordable Care Act will require Applicable Large Employers (i.e. large employers subject to the employer mandate) and employers sponsoring self-insured plans to comply with new annual IRS reporting requirements. The first reporting deadline will be February 28, 2016 as to the data employers collect during the 2015 calendar year. The reporting provides the IRS with information it needs to enforce the Individual Mandate (i.e. individuals are penalized for not having health coverage) and the Employer Mandate (i.e. large employers are penalized for not offering health coverage to full-time employees). The IRS will also require employers who offer self-insured plans to report on covered individuals.
Large employers and coverage providers must also provide a written statement to each employee or responsible individual (i.e. one who enrolls one or more individuals) identifying the reported information. The written statement can be a copy of the Form.
The IRS recently released draft Forms 1094-C and 1095-C and draft Forms 1094-B and 1095-B, along with draft instructions for each form.
Which Forms Do I File?
Statements to employees and responsible individuals are due annually by January 31. The first statements are due January 31, 2016.
Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C and 1095-C are due annually by February 28 (or by March 31, if filing electronically). The first filing is due by February 28, 2016 (or March 31, 2016, if filing electronically).
Even though the forms are not due until 2016, the annual reporting will be based on data from the prior year. Employers need to plan ahead now to collect data for 2015. Many employers have adopted the Look Back Measurement Method Safe Harbor (“Safe Harbor”) to identify full-time employees under the ACA. The Safe Harbor allows employers to “look back” on the hours of service of its employees during 2014 or another measurement period. There are specific legal restrictions regarding the timing and length of the periods under the Safe Harbor, so employers cannot just pick random dates. Employers also must follow various rules to calculate hours of service under the Safe Harbor. The hours of service during the measurement period (which is likely to include most of 2014) will determine whether a particular employee is full-time under the ACA during the 2015 stability period. The stability period is the time during which the status of the employee, as full-time or non-full-time, is locked in. In 2016, employers must report their employees’ full-time status during the calendar year of 2015. Therefore, even though the IRS forms are not due until 2016, an employee’s hours of service in 2014 will determine how an employer reports that employee during each month of 2015. Employers who have not adopted the Safe Harbor should consider doing so because it allows an employer to average hours of service over a 12-month period to determine the full-time status of an employee. If an employer does not adopt the Safe Harbor, the IRS will require the employer to make a monthly determination, which is likely to increase an employer’s potential exposure to penalties.
What Must the Employer Report?
There are three parts to Form 1095-C. An applicable large employer must file one Form 1095-C for each full-time employee. If the applicable large employer sponsors self-insured health plans, it must also file Form 1095-C for any employee who enrolls in coverage regardless of the full-time status of that employee.
Form 1095-C requires the employer to identify the type of health coverage offered to a full-time employee for each calendar month, including whether that coverage offered minimum value and was affordable for that employee. Employers must use a code to identify the type of health coverage offered and applicable transition relief.
Employers that offer self-insured health plans also must report information about each individual enrolled in the self-insured health plan, including any full-time employee, non-full-time employee, employee family members, and others.
Applicable large employers use Form 1094-C as a transmittal to report employer summary information and transmit its Forms 1095-C to the IRS. Form 1094-C requires employers to enter the name and contact information of the employer and the total number of Forms 1095-C it submits. It also requires information about whether the employer offered minimum essential coverage under an eligible employer-sponsored plan to at least 95% of its full-time employees and their dependents for the entire calendar year, the number of full-time employees for each month, and the total number of employees (full-time or non-full-time) for each month.
Employers offering self-insured coverage use Form 1095-B to report information to the IRS about individuals who are covered by minimum essential coverage and therefore are not liable for the individual shared responsibility payment. These employers must file a Form 1095-B for eachindividual who was covered for any part of the calendar year. The employer must make reasonable efforts to collect social security numbers for covered individuals.
Employers who file Form 1095-B will use Form 1094-B as a transmittal form. It asks for the name of the employer, the employer’s EIN, and the name, telephone number, and address of the employer’s contact person.
Failure to Report – What Happens?
The IRS will impose penalties for failure to timely provide correct written statements to employees. The IRS will also impose penalties for failure to timely file a correct return. For the 2016 reporting on 2015 data, the IRS will not impose a penalty for good faith compliance. However, the IRS specified that good faith compliance requires that employers provide the statements and file the returns.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) imposes significant information reporting responsibilities on employers starting with the 2015 calendar year. One reporting requirement applies to all employer-sponsored health plans, regardless of the size of the employer. A second reporting requirement applies only to large employers, even if the employer does not provide health coverage. The IRS is currently developing new systems for reporting the required information and recently released draft forms, however instructions have yet to be released.
The new information reporting systems will be similar to the current Form W-2 reporting systems in that an information return (Form 1095-B or 1095-C) will be prepared for each applicable employee, and these returns will be filed with the IRS using a single transmittal form (Form 1094-B or 1094-C). Electronic filing is required if the employer files at least 250 returns. Employers must file these returns annually by Feb. 28 (March 31 if filed electronically). Therefore, employers will be filing these forms for the 2015 calendar year by Feb. 28 or March 31, 2016 respectively. A copy of the Form 1095, or a substitute statement, must be given to the employee by Jan. 31 and can be provided electronically with the employee’s consent. Employers will be subject to penalties of up to $200 per return for failing to timely file the returns or furnish statements to employees.
The IRS released drafts of the Form 1095-B and Form 1095-C information returns, as well as the Form 1094-B and Form 1094-C transmittal returns, in July 2014 and is expected to provide instructions for the forms in August 2014. According to the IRS, both the forms and the instructions will be finalized later this year.
Health coverage reporting requirement
The health coverage reporting requirement is designed to identify employees and their family members who are enrolled in minimum essential health coverage. Employees who are offered coverage, but decline the coverage, are not reported. The IRS will use this information to determine whether the employees are exempt from the individual mandate penalty due to having health coverage for themselves and their family members.
Insurance companies will prepare Form 1095-B (Health Coverage) and Form 1094-B (Transmittal of Health Coverage Information Returns) for individuals covered by fully-insured employer-sponsored group health plans. Small employers with self-insured health plans will use Form 1095-B and Form 1094-B to report the name, address, and Social Security number (or date of birth) of employees and their family members who have coverage under the self-insured health plan. However, large employers (as defined below) with self-insured health plans will file Forms 1095-C and 1094-C in lieu of Forms 1095-B and 1094-B.
Large employer reporting requirement
“Applicable large employer members (ALE)” are subject to the reporting requirement if they offer an insured or self-insured health plan, or do not offer any group health plan. ALE members are those employers that are either an applicable large employer on their own or are members of a controlled or affiliated service group with an ALE (regardless of the number of employees of the group member). ALEs are those that had, on average, at least 50 full-time employees (including full-time equivalent “FTE” employees) during the preceding calendar year. Full-time employees are those who work, on average, at least 30 hours per week. Employers with fewer than 50 full-time employees and equivalents are not applicable large employers and, thus, are exempt from this health coverage reporting requirement.
As referenced above, an employer’s status as an ALE is determined on a controlled or affiliated service group basis. For example, if Company A and Company B are members of the same controlled group and Company A has 100 employees and Company B has 20 employees, then A and B are both members of an ALE. Consequently, Company A and Company B must each file the information returns.
Each ALE member must file Form 1095-C (Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage) and Form 1094-C (Transmittal of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Returns) with the IRS for each calendar year. The IRS will use this information to determine whether (1) the employer is subject to the employer mandate penalty, and (2) an employee is eligible for a premium tax credit on insurance purchased through the new health insurance exchange. ALEs with fewer than 100 full-time employees are generally eligible for transition relief from the employer mandate penalty for their 2015 plan year. Nonetheless, these employers are still required to file Forms 1095-C and 1094-C for the 2015 calendar year.
The employer mandate penalty can be imposed on any ALE member that does not offer affordable, minimum value health coverage to all of its full-time employees starting in 2015. Health coverage is affordable if the amount that the employer charges an employee for self-only coverage does not exceed 9.5 percent of the employee’s Form W-2 wages, rate of pay, or the federal poverty level for the year. A health plan provides minimum value if the plan is designed to pay at least 60 percent of the total cost of medical services for a standard population. In the case of a controlled or affiliated service group, the employer mandate penalties apply to each member of the group individually.
ALE members must prepare a Form 1095-C for each employee. The return will report the following information:
An ALE member will file with the IRS one Form 1094-C transmitting all of its Forms 1095-C. The Form 1094-C will report the following information:
As noted above, each ALE member is required to file Forms 1095-C and 1094-C for its own employees, even if it participates in a health plan with other employers (e.g., when the parent company sponsors a plan in which all subsidies participate). Special rules apply to multiemployer plans for collectively-bargained employees.
In light of the complexity of the new information reporting requirements, it is recommended that employers should begin taking steps now to prepare for the new reporting requirements: