Extended deadlines, confusing terms for business sizes and hiccups in the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace may have small business owners dreading the next steps for IRS forms and coverage reporting. Fortunately, only 4% of small businesses are subject to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting requirements or the employer responsibility provision.
The good news is that reporting for the 2014 calendar year is entirely voluntary, and there will be no negative impact or tax liability for either employers or employees, if small business owners decide to report for this year.
Defining Small Business Sizes:
Small Employer: Generally businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees.
Large Employer: 50 or more full time or full time equivalent employees.
Not sure how many full time employees or full time equivalent (FTE) employees you have? Head over to the healthcare.gov FTE calculator.
Reporting Start Dates:
100 or more employees: Minimal Essential Coverage (MEC) must start January 1, 2015, with mandatory reporting filed no later than February 29th, 2016 or March 31, 2016 if e-filing.
50 or more employees: While MEC is not required until January 1, 2016, reporting for the 2015 calendar year is required.
25 or less: Reporting is encouraged, but not mandatory. However, small businesses of this size may be eligible for tax credits and other benefits if they voluntarily file reports for 2014 or 2015. Learn more about these tax credits at the IRS website.
What is Reported
Small businesses must report about the coverage (if any) offered, per month, to their full-time employees. This information, reported per employee, must include the lowest cost of self-only coverage offered to employees.
Forms, Forms and More Forms
The IRS has, in an effort to streamline the reporting process for businesses, created single, combined form for information reporting. The forms created (6055 & 6056) will be used by employers to report to both the IRS and to furnish employees with information about their offered coverage.
Simplified Reporting Options
Employers that offer a qualifying offer – minimal value coverage for a full time employee that costs the employee no more than $1,100 and also offers an option family coverage – have an even simpler way to report for 2015. Business owners must inform employees that they may be eligible for premium tax credits and provide standard statements for all reporting.
If the employee receives a qualifying year-round offer, the employer needs to report only that they received the qualifying offer 12 months out of the year and the name, address, and taxpayer identification number of said employee. A copy of this or a statement of the same information must be furnished to the employee.
If the employee receives this qualifying offer for fewer than 12 months out of the year, the IRS accepts reporting that simply indicates an offer was made with a code entered for each month the offer was made.
These simplified options were brought about in a response to feedback from stakeholders, and are the results of the IRS trying to make a difficult and often costly change in the way small businesses are run a little easier on business owners.
If an employer provides coverage under a group health plan, they must report the value of the healthcare provided on employee W-2 forms in Box 12 using the code DD to identify the amount. Find out more about W-2 reporting from the IRS page that also provided a chart on W-2 reporting.
While the IRS has instituted a policy of leniency for employers throughout this transition period, it is always a good idea to find webinars online, local workshops, or work with a small business accountant to better understand the responsibilities of a small business owner.
If you feel overwhelmed or would like more information, contact Paul Herman for a consultation, (914) 400-0300.