Give Employers More Time To Comply With ACA Reporting Requirements, Industry Group Urges

The Treasury Department should provide a very simplified approach for the reporting requirements applicable to health plan coverage offered under employer-sponsored plans for 2015 or delay the reporting deadline for a year. Those are among the recommendations that the ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) recently filed with the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service on the draft forms and instructions for the reporting requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“Given the delay in issuing the forms and instructions and the other obstacles facing most, if not all large employers, the approximately three months provided (i.e., prior to commencement of the first year, 2015, for which reporting is required) will be insufficient to create the significant reporting infrastructure necessitated by these rules, especially one that is capable of capturing data starting in 2015 and reporting the information in early 2016,” wrote Debra Davis, vice president for benefits.

In its letter, ERIC urges the government to provide additional time to comply with the reporting requirements, to simplify the requirements, and to provide a number of clarifications regarding the forms and instructions. ERIC also asks the government to specify the circumstances under which an employer may apply some of the alternative reporting methods as well as for additional guidance on when employers may use substitute forms.

Relief options. ERIC indicates the Treasury should provide a form of transitional relief for the “98 percent offer option” for 2015. “We suggest that transitional relief be available for this option much the way that the 95 percent shared responsibility threshold was reduced to 70 percent for 2015. For instance, for the 2015 coverage year, the “98 percent offer option” could be correspondingly scaled back to an 80 percent offer option,” the letter states.

ERIC also comments that additional guidance is needed regarding the “Qualifying Offer” Method. “The Treasury should clarify the reporting to the IRS and disclosures to individuals that will be required for a company with a self-insured health plan that satisfies the requirements for the Qualifying Offer Method, including whether reporting to the individual on the Form 1095-C is still required for Code section 6055 purposes if a company is using the Qualifying Offer Method,” the letter states.

Additional issues. ERIC also provides suggestions on some additional issues regarding the reporting requirements, including the following:

• The Treasury should provide guidance regarding the reporting of health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs).
• Employers should be given the option of checking, or not checking, the “All 12 Months” box on both Forms 1094-C and 1095-C even if the data for a particular individual are the same for all 12 months.
• Companies should have the option to report dates of birth regardless of whether they have the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) for dependents.
• Individuals should be allowed to respond to requests for TINs in the same manner they make their health care elections.

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