Friday, October 17, 2014

What New Paperwork Does An Employer Have Under ObamaCare?



You are an employer. You are a bit unclear on the new paperwork you need to file to comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.  As we go into the fourth quarter of 2014, this issue is taking on greater urgency.

You are completely normal. Many companies, including their advisors, are in the same situation. The rules are new, complicated and – and in some cases – repetitively postponed. Are you supposed to do anything different when you send out the 2014 Forms W-2 in early 2015, for example?

The easiest way to make sense of this is to divide employers into three categories. Why? Because each employer category has its own rules.

The first category is an employer with less than 50 employees (technically, “full-time equivalents”). The Government is quick to point out that this encompasses 96% of all employers, although of course it encompasses a much smaller percentage of employees.

If this is you:

·        You do not have to do anything different with your 2014 W-2s.
·        You are not required to provide health insurance coverage to your full-time employees.
·        You are not required to pay an employer penalty.
·        This is true for 2014, 2015 and all years thereafter.

So, if you are an employer in this category you may or may not offer health insurance to your employees, but this remains a business decision. You are not required to do anything – including filing any new paperwork – to be in compliance with the ACA.

Let’s make our second category employers with 100 or more employees. Why? Technically the original ACA divided employers into two groups: under 50 employees and 50 employees and over. There have been numerous regulatory changes to the law, and one change divided employers further into 50-but-99-and-under employees and 100-employees-and-over.

If this is you… you need to get ready to make changes. 

·         You do not have to do anything different with your 2014 W-2s (fortunately). However, see below for your 2015 W-2s, which you will file in 2016.
·        You will have to provide health insurance to your employees starting January 1, 2015.
o   The ACA itself defines what is acceptable insurance, referred to as “minimum essential coverage.”
§  It also has to be “affordable.”
§  These are areas you want to review with your insurance agent or benefits consultant.
o   There is a sub-rule in here that may or may not impact you. The ACA originally required employers to cover 95% of their full-time employees in 2015. That rule has been changed. You are now required to cover 70% of your full-time employees in 2015 and then 95% for 2016 and later years.
·        You will be required to pay an employer penalty if you don’t provide minimum essential and affordable health insurance.
o   Interestingly enough, this penalty will not appear on your business income tax return. The IRS has to wait until your employees have filed their individual tax returns, then match any information provided to the IRS by the health-care exchanges and by you as the employer.
o   This is expected to be in the form of an IRS notice. You will be given time to respond, after which the IRS will issue another notice and demand for payment.
o   You can therefore expect that this notice will not go out until the end of 2016 or more likely in 2017. This is approximately one-year after you paid the underlying payroll itself.
§  We should expect that this penalty will also eventually be required to be paid via estimated tax payments.
·        You will have new paperwork when you file your 2015 year-end payroll tax returns in 2016. These are known as the “Section 6056 rules” and are in place to provide employees the information they need to calculate their ACA penalty, if any, on their individual tax returns.
o   You will file Form 1095-C Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage. A copy of this goes to your employee. It will also go to the IRS with its transmittal – Form 1094-C Transmittal of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Returns.
§  It is therefore similar to sending the W-2s with their transmittal Form W-3.
o   By the way, filing Forms 1095-C and 1094-C are optional for 2014 (to be filed in 2015). The IRS has said it would like you to file and consider them a “trial run,” but you do not have to.
o   But they are mandatory for 2015 (to be filed in 2016).

Finally, our third category: employers with 50 to 99 employees.

This category is different because in February, 2014 the IRS segregated what it called “midsized employers” (that is 50 to 99 employees). These employers received a one-year delay before facing ACA penalties – until January 1, 2016.

The “large employers” (100-or-more employees) received no such break and have to comply starting January 1, 2015.

If this is you… you need to get ready to make changes. 

·        You do not have to do anything different with your 2014 W-2s (fortunately). However, see below for your 2015 W-2s, which you will file in 2016.
·        You will have to provide health insurance to your employees starting January 1, 2016 (not 2015).
o   There is an interesting requirement, though.
§  You will have to certify – for 2015 - that…
·        You have not reduced your workforce to qualify for this relief; and
·        You have not materially reduced or eliminated any health coverage.
§  This certification is on Form 1094-C, which you will be filing anyway.
o   Otherwise, the requirements are the same as 100-and-more employers, as discussed above.
·        You will have an employer penalty for not complying, but you do not have to comply until January 1, 2016. That is, you have one additional year to comply (as compared to 100-and-more employers).
o   Otherwise, the requirements are the same as for 100-and-more employers, as discussed above.
·        You will have new paperwork when you file your 2015 year-end payroll tax returns in 2016. These are known as the “Section 6056 rules” and are in place to provide employees the information they need to calculate their ACA penalty, if any, on their personal tax returns.
o   You will file Form 1095-C Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage. A copy of this goes to your employee. It will go to the IRS with its transmittal – Form 1094-C Transmittal of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Returns.
§  It is therefore similar to sending the W-2s with their transmittal Form W-3.
o   By the way, filing Forms 1095-C and 1094-C are optional for 2014 (to be filed in 2015). The IRS has said it would like you to file and consider them a “trial run,” but you do not have to.
o   But they are mandatory for 2015 (to be filed in 2016).

You now have a high-altitude view of what you, as an employer, are to do to comply with the ACA filing requirements. Unless you are a less-than-50 employer, you will have additional reporting requirements. Please consider that some of this information is not presently collected as part of your routine accounting process. Both 50-to-99 and more-than-100 employers should review that new procedures will be in place to collect the information needed to complete these new ACA tax forms. Whereas these forms will not be filed until early 2016, they will contain information going back to January, 2015.

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