Once an employer has created and distributed forms 1095-B and 1095-C to their employees, the ‘final’ step is to E-file (or mail if you have less than 250 forms) these forms to IRS. At this point, most employers and their advisers likely feel a sense of relief that they successfully completed their requirements for the year. In reality, employers still have work to do!
IRS E-Filing Accepted with Errors
If you have not completed your E-filing yet, you likely are not aware of the fact that approximately 70% of all submissions are processed by the IRS under a status of ‘Accepted With Errors’. Essentially this means that as an employer you have met your initial filing requirement of submitting appropriate 1094 and 1095 data which will count as a timely filing, however you still have work to do in correcting the errors present. Depending upon the vendor you chose to assist you with your ACA reporting, this could be a challenging task.
Since June 2016, following the E-Filing of ACA forms to the IRS, the federal and state health exchanges began releasing notices to employers. These notices communicated that certain employees indicated to be working for the employer received a subsidy for medical coverage under that exchange. In essence, this was the first time an employer was put on notice that they potentially will be subject to an ACA ‘B’ penalty for the employee of $250 per month (adjusted for inflation). It was then up to the employer to respond to the exchange via an appeal to document that the employee was indeed offered qualifying, affordable coverage (if applicable). If the employer did not respond or issues an appeal that is not approved, they will then be issued a penalty bill due for payment. Employers only have 1 attempt to successfully appeal to the exchange notices. This policy continues to be in effect for the 2016 reporting year.
ACA reporting penalties are unique in that most of the tax penalties are built into the system to occur automatically. The 5 different ACA tax penalties are:
- Individual mandate penalty – Each citizen must be covered by a qualifying medical plan. When a person files their taxes they must indicate if they maintained medical coverage all year. The IRS then matches their answer to the data they receive from insurance carriers and employers to determine if their answer was true. If not, they will be issued a penalty letter due for payment.
- Employer form distribution to employees – By the end of January following the reporting year, employers must provide their employees with a form 1095-B or 1095-C as applicable. For the 2016 reporting year the IRS issued an extension allowing to March 2, 2017 to provide this form. These forms are necessary since the employees will need them while validating to the IRS and health exchanges of the type and cost of coverage they were offered and maintained. If employers miss the deadline by less than 30 days late on their delivery, the penalty is $50 per form. After the 30 days, employers will be penalized $250 per form that was not distributed to the employees. At this point, these penalties are not issued automatically by the IRS. The process is very similar to how employers must issue timely W-2 forms to their employees.
- Employer form filing to the IRS – By the end of March following the reporting year, employer must submit to the IRS their forms 1094 and 1095. If employers miss the the deadline to file, they will be penalized $250 per form that was not submitted.
- ‘A’ Penalties following the IRS filing – If applicable, from the 1094-C forms filed, the IRS will automatically calculate ‘A’ penalties due by the employer of $2,000 per employee per year (adjusted for inflation). The IRS will make their calculations from the information submitted in Section III of form 1094-C and then issue penalty letters to employers which are due for immediate payment.
- ‘B’ Penalties following the exchange notices – As addressed previously, employers will receive letters from the federal and state health insurance exchanges in regard to employees of the employer who went to these various exchanges, purchased coverage and received a premium subsidy. This combination of an employee purchasing coverage from an exchange and receiving a subsidy is the necessary element to trigger a ‘B’ penalty of $3,000 to the employer (adjusted for inflation). The employer will then have 1 attempt to submit an appeal letter to the exchange documenting if they offered qualifying, affordable coverage to the employee in question. The appeal will then be reviewed and a determination will be made by the exchange. Following this determination, the employer will receive either a notice that the appeal has been approved or, if not approved, they will automatically receive a penalty letter due for immediate payment.