It’ll come as no surprise that a top compliance issue for employer-sponsored health plans right now is ACA shared-responsibility requirements and related IRS reporting. Although the recent tax reform legislation zeroed out the individual mandate penalty beginning in 2019, the employer mandate and its assessments remain on the books. The means large employers must continue to gather data on offers of coverage and enrollment for 2018 reporting due in 2019. With respect to 2017 reporting, the IRS delayed the deadline for furnishing 2017 Forms 1095-C and 1095-B to individuals to March 2, but IRS filing deadlines are unchanged – February 28 if filing by paper or April 2 if filing electronically. An automatic 30-day extension of the IRS filing deadline is available by submitting Form 8809 before the relevant due date. The IRS has also extended the good-faith compliance standard to 2017 reporting but has said it doesn’t expect to do so for 2018 reporting due in 2019.
Employers finalizing their 2017 reporting should be aware of issues raised by the IRS in 2015 employer shared responsibility assessment letters (Letter 226J) that the agency began to send last fall. To our knowledge, these letters have so far only made assessments for failure to offer minimum essential coverage to a sufficient percentage of full-time employees (70% in 2015 but 95% in 2016 and later years) – the so-called “a” penalty. In many cases, the assessment letters have resulted from employer reporting errors on the 2015 1094-C and 1095-C forms. Some employers failed to properly report the offer of coverage to the required percentage of full-time employees on form 1094-C or to file a separate 1094-C for each member of a controlled group. These are valuable reminders for employers to reach out for expert assistance if there are uncertainties as they prepare the forms and transmittals.
All that might seem like more than enough, but there are a few other compliance issues employers will want to address this year.