The Affordable Care Act establishes that certain employers must offer health coverage to their full-time employees or a shared responsibility payment may apply. On Feb. 10, 2014, the Department of the Treasury and the IRS issued final regulations on the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions. For additional information on the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions and the proposed regulations, see our questions and answers. On July 9, 2013, the Department of the Treasury and the IRS announced transition relief from the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions for 2014. For more information, please see Notice 2013-45. For additional transition relief generally applicable to 2015, see the preamble to the final regulations. On Sept. 18, 2014, the Department of the Treasury and the IRS issued Notice 2014-49, which provides guidance on how to apply the look-back measurement method in situations in which the measurement period applicable to an employee changes.
On December 16, 2015, the Treasury Department and IRS issued Notice 2015-87 which provides further guidance on the application of various provisions of the ACA to employer-provided health coverage. Specifically, the notice provides guidance on: (1) certain aspects of the employer shared responsibility provisions (ESRP), including clarifying the identification of employee contributions when employers offer health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), flex credits, opt-out payments, or fringe benefits payments required under the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act or other similar laws; (2) the application of the adjusted 9.5 percent affordability threshold under the Premium Tax Credit rules to the section ESRP safe harbor provisions; (3) the employer status of certain entities for section ESRP purposes; (4) certain aspects of the application of the ESRP rules to government entities; (5) the information reporting provisions for applicable large employers; (6) the application of the rules for health savings accounts (HSAs) to persons eligible for benefits administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs; and (7) the application of the COBRA continuation coverage rules to unused amounts in a health flexible spending arrangement (health FSA) carried over and available in later years, and conditions that may be put on the use of carryover amounts.
Expatriate Health Coverage – See Tax Provisions for Other Organizations
Group Health Plan Requirements – See Tax Provisions for Other Organizations
On December 16, 2015, the Department of Treasury and IRS issued Notice 2015-87 which provides further guidance on the application of the market reforms that apply to group health plans under the ACA to various types of employer health care arrangements. This notice supplements the guidance provided in Notice 2013-54, Notice 2015-17 and the final regulations implementing the market reform provisions of the ACA.
Health Coverage for Older Children – See Tax Provisions for Individuals
Health Flexible Spending Arrangements – See Tax Provisions for Individuals
Health Reimbursement Arrangements, Health Flexible Spending Arrangements and Certain Other Employer Healthcare Arrangements – Application of Affordable Care Act Market Reforms
The Affordable Care Act’s market reforms apply to group health plans. On Sept. 13, 2013, the IRS issued Notice 2013-54, which explains how the Affordable Care Act’s market reforms apply to certain types of group health plans, including health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), health flexible spending arrangements (health FSAs) and certain other employer healthcare arrangements, including arrangements under which an employer reimburses an employee for some or all of the premium expenses incurred for an individual health insurance policy. The notice also provides guidance on employee assistance programs or EAPs and on section 125(f)(3), which prohibits the use of pre-tax employee contributions to cafeteria plans to purchase coverage on an Affordable Insurance Exchange (also known as a Health Insurance Marketplace). The notice applies for plan years beginning on and after Jan. 1, 2014, but taxpayers may apply the guidance provided in the notice for all prior periods. On February 18, 2015, the IRS issued Notice 2015-17 which provides transition relief from the excise tax under section 4980D with respect to failures to satisfy the market reforms by certain small employers reimbursing premiums for individual insurance policies, S corporations reimbursing premiums for 2-percent shareholders, and certain health care arrangements for employees with health coverage under Medicare and TRICARE.
DOL has issued a notice in substantially identical form to Notice 2013-54, DOL Technical Release 2013-03. On Jan. 24, 2013, DOL and HHS issued FAQs that address the application of the Affordable Care Act to HRAs. On Nov. 6, 2014, DOL issued additional FAQs that address the application of the Affordable Care Act to HRAs and other payment arrangements.
Additional information is also available regarding consequences to the employer if the employer does not establish a health insurance plan for its own employees, but reimburses those employees for premiums they pay for health insurance (either through a qualified health plan in the Marketplace or outside the Marketplace).
On December 16, 2015, the Treasury Department and IRS issued Notice 2015-87 which provides further guidance on the application of various provisions of the ACA to employer-provided health coverage. Notice 2015-87 provides guidance on the application of the market reforms that apply to group health plans under the ACA to various types of employer health care arrangements. The notice includes guidance that covers: (1) health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), including HRAs integrated with a group health plan, and similar employer-funded health care arrangements; and (2) group health plans under which an employer reimburses an employee for some or all of the premium expenses incurred for an individual health insurance policy, such as a reimbursement arrangement described in Revenue Ruling 61-146, or an arrangement under which the employer uses its funds to directly pay the premium for an individual health insurance policy covering the employee (collectively, an employer payment plan). The notice supplements the guidance provided in Notice 2013-54; FAQs about the Affordable Care Act Implementation (Part XXII) issued by the Department of Labor on November 6, 2014; Notice 2015-17; and final regulations implementing the market reform provisions of the ACA published on November 18, 2015.
High Cost Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage Excise Tax
Section 4980I, which was added to the Code by the Affordable Care Act, applies to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2019. Under this provision, if the aggregate cost of applicable employer-sponsored coverage provided to an employee exceeds a statutory dollar limit, which is revised annually, the excess is subject to a 40 percent excise tax. On February 23, 2015, the IRS issued Notice 2015-16, which is intended to initiate and inform the process of developing guidance about the excise tax on high cost employer sponsored health coverage. Notice 2015-16 describes potential approaches that could be incorporated in future guidance and invites comments on these potential approaches and other issues under section 4980I.
On July 30, 2015, the IRS issued Notice 2015-52, which is intended to continue the process of developing regulatory guidance regarding the excise tax on high cost employer-sponsored health coverage under section 4980I. The notice supplements Notice 2015-16 by addressing additional issues under section 4980I, including the identification of the taxpayers who may be liable for the excise tax, employer aggregation, the allocation of the tax among the applicable taxpayers, the payment of the applicable tax and further issues regarding the cost of applicable coverage that were not addressed in Notice 2015-16.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Pub. L. 114-113), signed into law on Dec. 18, 2015, delayed the effective date of the excise tax on high cost employer-sponsored health coverage from taxable years beginning after Dec 31, 2017, to taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2019.
Information Reporting on Health Coverage by Employers (Section 6056)
On March 5, 2014, the Department of the Treasury and IRS issued final regulations on employer health insurance coverage information reporting by applicable large employers to the IRS and its employees. The information reporting relates to health insurance coverage that is offered by certain employers, referred to as applicable large employers, and reporting is to be provided by each member of an applicable large employer. Additionally, on July 9, 2013, the Department of the Treasury and the IRS issued Notice 2013-45, announcing transition relief for 2014 from this annual information reporting. For additional information on the employer health insurance coverage information reporting see our questions and answers and this fact sheet issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
On December 28, 2015, IRS issued Notice 2016-4, which extends the due dates for the 2015 information reporting requirements, both furnishing to individuals and filing with the Internal Revenue Service (Service), for insurers, self-insuring employers, and certain other providers of minimum essential coverage under I.R.C. § 6055, and the information reporting requirements for applicable large employers under I.R.C. § 6056. Specifically, this Notice (1) extends the due date for furnishing the 2015 Form 1095-B, Health Coverage, and the 2015 Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage, from January 31, 2016, until March 31, 2016, and (2) extends the due date for filing with the Service the 2015 Form 1094-B, Transmittal of Health Coverage Information Returns, the 2015 Form 1095-B, Health Coverage, the 2015 Form 1094-C, Transmittal of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Returns, and the 2015 Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage from February 29, 2016, to May 31, 2016 if not filing electronically, and from March 31, 2016, to June 30, 2016 if filing electronically. This Notice also provides guidance to individuals who, as a result of these extensions, might not receive a Form 1095-B or Form 1095-C by the time they file their 2015 tax returns.
Information Reporting on Health Coverage by Insurers (Section 6055) – See Tax Provisions for Other Organizations
On April 26, 2012, the Department of the Treasury and IRS issued Notice 2012-31, which provides information and requested public comment on an approach to determining whether an eligible employer-sponsored health plan provides minimum value. Additionally, on April 30, 2013, the Treasury Department and the IRS issued proposed regulations relating to minimum value of eligible employer-sponsored plans and other rules regarding the premium tax credit. Starting in 2014, whether such a plan provides minimum value will be relevant to eligibility for the premium tax credit and application of the employer shared responsibility payment.
On November 4, 2014, the Department of the Treasury and IRS issued Notice 2014-69, which provides additional guidance regarding whether an employer-sponsored plan provides minimum value coverage if the plan fails to substantially cover in-patient hospitalization services or physician services.
Reporting Employer Provided Health Coverage in Form W-2
The Affordable Care Act requires employers to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan on an employee’s Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, in Box 12, using Code DD. Many employers are eligible for transition relief for tax-year 2012 and beyond, until the IRS issues final guidance for this reporting requirement.
The amount reported does not affect tax liability, as the value of the employer excludible contribution to health coverage continues to be excludible from an employee’s income, and it is not taxable. This reporting is for informational purposes only, to show employees the value of their health care benefits.
More information about the reporting can be found on Form W-2 Reporting of Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage.
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, “Tax Provisions for Employers” https://www.irs.gov/ website. Accessed February 10, 2016. https://www.irs.gov/Affordable-Care-Act/Affordable-Care-Act-Tax-Provisions#Tax Provisions for Individuals
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