As the year closes and the tax-filing season looms, employers face a quandary: Should they follow through with Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting, or let it go, on the assumption that the employer reporting provisions of the law will not be enforced?
Based on recent announcements from the IRS, the answer is clear: ACA is still the law, and employers who ignore their responsibilities under that law will face consequences.
Employers Must Prepare and Report
The ongoing efforts in Congress to “repeal and replace” the controversial law have given many employers the false idea that compliance is optional.
In a recent survey conducted by ComplyRight, 39% of employers surveyed said they are unsure whether reporting will be required for 2017 and 19% were still counting on the law to be repealed before year-end. In addition, almost 2 out of 5 (38%) were not at all concerned about IRS enforcement for the upcoming tax reporting season.
Yet, the IRS has been nothing but clear: The law remains in place, and employers must prepare and report on employees’ health care coverage for the 2017 tax year.
In fact, the agency recently announced that it would reject tax returns filed by individual taxpayers if they did not include the ACA-required information about their health care coverage.
This means all affected employers must file 1095-C reporting forms and supply copies to employees by the IRS deadlines — or face the consequences. Ignoring or delaying the reporting process could result in backlash from employees whose tax refunds may be delayed, as well as significant penalties from the IRS.
New IRS Enforcement Efforts Underway
Although the IRS has been slow to respond to ACA reporting violations in the past, this will no longer be the case. In mid-2017, the agency completed work on a sophisticated system designed to enforce the rules and target employers who don’t comply with the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment or annual reporting requirements. IRS enforcement could bring in more than $200 billion in penalties over the next several years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The ACA reporting requirements have the biggest impact on applicable large employers (ALEs) — businesses with 50 or more full-time or full-time-equivalent employees. To stay on schedule and avoid IRS penalties, these businesses must meet the following tax-filing deadlines:
- January 31, 2018 — mail employee copies
- February 28, 2018 — paper-filing deadline
- April 2, 2018 — e-filing deadline
If you are one of the employers who held off gathering the necessary reporting information while the ACA was being debated, it’s critical to act now. Otherwise, you may have to respond to concerned employees who can’t complete their 1040s — and possibly be subject to penalties from an IRS intent on enforcing the rules.
Keep in mind: Missing the deadlines for furnishing and filing ACA forms can cost as much as $260 a return, and intentional disregard can amount to $530 a return.
ACA Help from ComplyRight
For more information and free resources on how to prepare for ACA reporting, visit our ACA information center at www.complyright.com/aca.
You also can ease your ACA form-filing burden by working with an online e-filing service such as efile4biz. With this affordable and efficient service, you just upload your ACA form data (or complete the forms online) and the service provider does the rest — including e-filing the 1095 forms with the IRS and, optionally, printing and mailing the 1095 forms to recipients.