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Last week, the IRS issued its “final” versions of the forms 1094-B,1094-C, 1095-B and 1095-C along with instructions for the “B” forms and instructions for the “C” forms. The good news is that the forms are pretty much the same from the drafts released in mid 2014. What has changed is that the revised instructions have filled in some gaps about reporting, some of which are highlighted below:
1. Employers with 50-99 FTEs who were exempt from compliance in 2015 must still file these forms for the 2015 tax year.
2. For employers that cover non-employees (COBRA beneficiaries or retirees being most common), they can use forms 1094-B and 1095-B instead of filing out 1095-C Part III to report for those individuals.
3. With respect to reporting for employees who work for more than one employer member of a controlled group aggregated “ALE”, the employee may receive a report from each separate employer. However, the employer for whom he or she works the most hours in a given month should report for that month.
4. Under the final instructions, a full-time employee of a self-insured employer that accepts a qualifying offer and enrolls in coverage, the employer must provide that employee a 1095-C. The previous draft indicated that it would be enough to simply provide an employee a statement about the offer rather than an actual form
5. For plans that exclude spouses covered or offered health coverage through their own employers, the definition of “offer of health coverage” now provides that an offer to a spouse subject to a reasonable, objective condition is treated as an offer of coverage for reporting purposes.
6. There are some changes with respect to what days can be used to measure the “count” for reporting purposes. Employers are allowed to use the first day of the first payroll period of each month or the last day of the first payroll period of each month, as long as the last day is in the same month as when the payroll period starts. Also, an employer can report offering coverage for a month only if the employer offers coverage for every day of that month. Mid-month eligibilities would presumably be counted as being covered on the first day of the next month. However, in the case of terminations of employment mid-month, the coverage can be treated as offered for the entire month if, but for the termination, the coverage would have continued for the full month.
Now as a refresher about what needs to be filed:
Bear in mind that there is a considerable amount of time between now and the final filing obligation so there may be additional revisions to these instructions, or at least some further clarification. But in the meantime, read the instructions and familiarize yourself with the reporting obligations as well as beginning the steps to collecting the necessary data to make completing the forms next year easier.
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), beginning in 2015, certain large employers who do not offer affordable health insurance that provides minimum value to their full-time employees may be subject to significant penalties.
In a nutshell, in 2015, “applicable large employers” will be subject to an annualized employer “shared responsibility” penalty of $2,000 (indexed) per full-time employee (minus the first 80 full-time employees in 2015) if the employer does not offer health insurance to at least 70% of their full-time employees and their dependents. This amount will be increase from 70% to 95% after 2015. This is commonly referred to as the “Pay or Play” penalty.
Even if an applicable large employer offers insurance coverage to full-time employees, the employer still could be subject to an annualized penalty of $3,000 (indexed) per employee who receives an Exchange subsidy if the offered employer-sponsored health coverage does not meet minimum value standards or is not affordable. This $3000 penalty is capped at the amount that would apply if the $2,000 penalty described above were to apply.
What should an employer do now to prepare for these penalties?
(A) Determine if they are an “applicable large employer” -To do this, employers should count both full-time employees and part-time employee hours as follows:
1) Count the full-time employees for each month in the prior year.
2) Count the full-time equivalents for each month in the prior year.
a) Add total hours for non-full-time employees but count no more than 120 hours per month for any one non-full-time employee.
b) Divide the number obtained in (a) by 120. This is the full-time equivalent number.
3) Add the numbers obtained in (1) and (2) above (i.e., the full-time employee and full-time equivalent numbers) for each month.
4) Add the 12 sums obtained in (3) and divide by 12. This is the average number of full-time employees and full-time equivalents.
5) If this number obtained in (4) is under 50 (or under 100 for the 2015 determination for certain employers), the employer is not an applicable large employer for the year being determined.
Note: The applicable large employer is determined on a controlled group basis. For example, if there are three companies, each of which is wholly owned by the same parent company, the companies are all considered one employer for this calculation. Also note that, special transition rules apply in determining applicable large employer status for 2015 and that a special seasonal employee exception may apply even if the threshold in (5) is exceeded.
(B) If an employer will be an applicable large employer in 2015, it should determine whether it could be subject to penalties in 2015. For example, the employer should review its group health plan to determine if the insurance coverage is “offered” to full-time employees meets minimum value standards and is considered affordable to employees.
© An employer also will need to address how it will determine the full-time status of employees – will it use the “monthly measurement period” or the “look back measurement period.” This is particularly important for employers who have many variable-hour employees or seasonal employees.
(D) If the employer’s group health plan does not meet the threshold tests to avoid the penalties noted above, the employer should evaluate whether it wants to restructure its health care offerings or pay the penalties (which are non-deductible).
(E) Finally, employers should review their data collection procedures to ensure that they will be able to report the healthcare information required to be reported for 2015 (the actual reporting will occur in 2016 for the 2015 calendar year). Insurers, sponsors of self-insured plans, and other entities that provide minimum essential coverage during a calendar year will be required to report certain information to the IRS and to participants. In addition, applicable large employers will be required to report about the coverage they provide to both the IRS and to their employees. Drafts of the IRS forms to be used in reporting this information have recently been published (Form 1095-B, Form 1095-B Transmittal, Form 1095-C, Form 1095-C Transmittal). Employers should review these forms to understand the data that will need to be reported.
It is not too late for employers to take action now to avoid penalties in 2015.