For many US employers, reporting year 2015 was an introduction to the realities of complying with the new ACA employer mandate. Initially meant to be implemented in 2014, this employer mandate was partially enforced in 2015 but is set to be fully implemented and enforced in 2016. This makes 2016 reporting even more crucial to a company’s ACA compliance and financial responsibility.
So, what has changed in 2016 as far as the ACA employer mandate goes?
Coverage Requirements: In 2015, a business with 100 or more full-time or full-time equivalent employees needed to provide coverage to at least 70% of employees. In 2016, a business with 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalents needs to provide benefits to at least 95% of employees.
MEC Penalty Changes (aka the sledgehammer penalty): When minimum essential coverage is not offered, penalties will be accrued. Requirements are considered unmet if the following occurs:
A premium tax credit is received from the marketplace AND a qualified health plan is purchased by at least one full-time employee
Minimum essential requirements are not met by the plan
This penalty is adjusted annually for inflation. In 2016, the penalty has been raised to $2,160 x number of FTEs in excess of 30 employees.
Inadequate Healthcare Penalties (aka the tack hammer penalty): These penalties for non-compliant coverage will apply if a qualified employee receives a tax credit to purchase insurance in the marketplace for one of these reasons:
The standards for minimum value were not met
Coverage offered by the employer was deemed unaffordable
The employee was not part of the 95% of employees offered coverage
According to the IRS, “On an annual basis, this payment is equal to $3,000 (adjusted annually for inflation so for 2016 this amount is $3240) but only for each full-time employee who receives the premium tax credit. The total payment in this instance cannot exceed the amount the employer would have owed had the employer not offered minimum essential coverage to at least 95 percent of its full-time employees (and their dependents).”
Reporting requirement penalties are also higher:
Information Returns: The penalty for failure to file a correct information return is $260 for each return for which the failure occurs, with the total penalty for a calendar year not to exceed $3,193,000.
Payee Statements: The penalty for failure to provide a correct payee statement is $260 for each statement for which the failure occurs, with the total penalty for a calendar year not to exceed $3,193,000.
If there is intentional disregard for filing correct payee statements, special rules apply which increase both the individual penalty and calendar year totals.
If a company fails to file an information return and a payee statement, the fines are a combined $520 per return. See the publication from the IRS here.
The time has come for companies to pay close attention to their ACA compliance. As long as the updated requirements are understood and followed, there is no reason why 2016 should bring fear. Partner with a trusted, proven ACA Compliance software partner for even less reporting stress in 2016!
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