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Beginning January 1, 2015, employers have new reporting obligations for health plan coverage, to allow the government to administer the “pay or play” penalties to be assessed against employers that do not offer compliant coverage to their full-time employees.
Even though the penalties only apply if there are 100 or more employees for 2015, employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees are required to report for 2015. Also, note this reporting is required even if the employer does not maintain any health plan.
Employers that provide self-funded group health coverage also have reporting obligations, to allow the government to administer the “individual mandate” which results in a tax on individuals who do not maintain health coverage.
These reporting obligations will be difficult for most employers to implement. Penalties for non-compliance are high, so employers need to begin now with developing a plan on how they will track and file the required information.
Pay or Play Reporting. Applicable large employers (ALEs) must report health coverage offered to employees for each month of 2015 in an annual information return due early in 2016. ALEs are employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) employees. Employees who average 30 hours are counted as one, and those who average less than 30 hours are combined into an equivalent number of 30 hour employees to determine if there are 50 or more FTE employees. All employees of controlled group, or 80% commonly owned employers, are also combined to determine if the 50 FTE threshold is met.
Individual Mandate Reporting. Self-funded employers, including both ALEs and small employers that are not ALEs, must report each individual covered for each month of the calendar year. For fully-insured coverage, the insurance carrier must report individual month by month coverage. The individual mandate reporting is due early in 2016 for each month of 2015.
Which Form? ALE employers have one set of forms to report both the pay or play and the individual mandate information – Forms 1094C and 1095C. Insurers and self-insured employers that are not ALEs use Forms 1094B and 1095B to report the individual mandate information. Information about employee and individual coverage provided on these forms must also be reported by the employer to its employees as well as to COBRA and retiree participants. Forms 1095B and 1095C can be used to provide this information, or employers can provide the information in a different format.
The following chart summaries which returns are filed by employers:
Who Reports? While ALE status is determined on a controlled group basis, each ALE must file separate reports. Employers will need to provide insurance carriers, and third party administrators who process claims for self-funded coverage (if they will assist the employer with reporting), accurate data on the employer for whom each covered employee works. If an employee works for more than one ALE in a controlled group, the employer for whom the highest number of hours is worked does the reporting for that employee.
Due Date for Filing. The due date of the forms matches the due dates of Forms W-2, and employers may provide the required employee statements along with the W-2. Employee reporting is due January 31st and reporting to the IRS is due each February 28th, although the date is extended until March 31st if the forms are filed electronically. If the employer files 250 or more returns, the returns must be filed electronically. Reporting to employees can only be made electronically if the employee has specifically consented to receiving these reports electronically.
Penalties. Failure to file penalties can total $200 per individual for whom information must be reported, subject to a maximum of $3 million per year. Penalties will not be assessed for employers who make a good faith effort to file correct returns for 2015.
What Information is Required? For the pay or play reporting, each ALE must file a Form 1094C reporting the number of its full-time employees (averaging 30 hours) and total employees for each calendar month, whether the ALE is in a “aggregated” (controlled) group, a listing of the name and EIN of the top 30 other entities in the controlled group (ranked by number of full-time employees), and any special transition rules being used for pay or play penalties. ALE’s must also file a 1095C for each employee who was a full-time employee during any calendar month of the year. The 1095C includes the employee’s name, address and SSN, and month by month reporting of whether coverage was offered to the employee, spouse and dependents, the lowest premium for employee only coverage, and identification of the safe-harbor used to determine affordability. This information is used to determine pay or play penalty taxes and to verify the individuals’ eligibility for subsidies toward coverage costs on the Federal and state exchanges.
If the ALE provides self-funded coverage, the ALE must also report on the 1095C the name and SSN of each individual provided coverage for each calendar month. If an employer is not an ALE, but is self-funded, the name and SSN of each covered individual is reported on the 1095B and the 1094B is used to transmit the forms 1095B to the IRS.
A chart is available that sets out what data must be reported on each form, to help employers determine what information they need to track. Click here to access the chart.
Next Steps. Employers will need to determine how much help their insurance carrier or TPA can provide with the reporting, and then the employer’s HR, payroll and IT functions will need to work together to be sure the necessary information is being tracked and can be produced for reporting in January 2016.
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.