Affordable Care Act (#ACA): Don’t Forget Your 2017 Requirements!

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by our friends at ComplyRight, providers of practical, affordable products and services that help employers of all sizes streamline essential tasks and compliance with federal, state, and local employment laws. Be sure to check out their knowledge center for free information and resources. Enjoy the article!)

Just in case you missed it, Congress passed the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017” and it was signed into law by the President last month. The Act will impact many things during fiscal year 2018, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But what’s going to happen in 2018 isn’t the subject of today’s article, because more changes could take place that will impact the year.

Today, I want to discuss 2017. Because we still have to finish last year’s business. The first part of the year is typically when we wrap up our business reporting for the year prior. For example, organizations prepare and file their taxes. Another thing they have to do is complete their ACA filings with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Please consider this your public service announcement (PSA): Organizations still need to complete their 2017 ACA filings. I thought it was very interesting that in ComplyRight’s Compliance Trends Survey, they found:

·  75 percent of organizations know the ACA compliance requirements

·  89 percent of organizations completed the ACA filing requirements for 2016

·  But 39 percent were unsure of whether they would need to complete ACA filing in 2017

Of course, some of you might be saying, “Hey, the IRS isn’t exactly speedy when it comes to going after companies.” And that might be true. The ComplyRight team was telling me that the IRS is currently sending out Letter 226J, which speaks to penalties relating to 2015 filings. But regardless of the year, I think it’s safe to say that no company wants to get one of these letters … at any point in time. So, the answer is to do your filings as required by law.

Affordable Care Act: Who Has to File in 2017

Many of you already know this, but here’s a quick refresher. The largest reporting burden falls on businesses considered to be applicable large employers (or ALEs). Don’t let the word “large” fool you. Under this law, you can have 50 employees and be considered a “large” employer. Determining if you’re an ALE is a bit too detailed for today’s article, but it can be done easily. ComplyRight offers an “ACA: Are you an ALE?” worksheet that you can download.

However, this doesn’t mean small organizations are off the hook. ALL self-insured organizations (regardless of size) must file a report with the name, address, and Social Security number/date of birth (DOB) of employees and family members covered under the plan.

Affordable Care Act: When are filings due in 2017

Please note: On December 22, 2017, the IRS extended the due date for employers and providers to issue health insurance forms to individuals. The new due date to provide Forms 1095-B or 1095-C is now March 2, 2018. The extension is automatic. Employers don’t need to request it. There are two additional dates to remember when it comes to ACA filings, so here is the list:

·  March 2, 2018 – mail or distribute forms due to employees

·  February 28, 2018 – IRS deadline for paper filing

·  April 2, 2018 – IRS e-filing deadline

ComplyRight offers a free white paper titled “ACA Prepare & Report: What you need to know to meet the requirements” that spells out what is expected for each of the three key filing dates.

Finally, let’s address the elephant in the room. Even if, during 2018 the individual mandate goes away, organizations must remember their 2017 obligations. Employers could be subject to penalties for noncompliance. If your organization is looking for some additional resources to help answer ACA filing questions, ComplyRight offers a free download FAQ.

Compliance Is Important

Regardless of how employers feel about the Affordable Care Act and the changes being made, it’s important to be compliant. ComplyRight makes it their business to help organizations navigate the compliance landscape. They’ve created a webpage called “ACA: Prepare & Report – The Employer’s Guide to Meeting Reporting Requirements”. It includes several of the resources already mentioned and much more. You might want to bookmark it for future reference, because we all know that compliance is a never-ending job.

I know we don’t talk about compliance every day on HR Bartender, but compliance is important. Compliance says more about an organization than its ability to complete paperwork. Being compliant with the law demonstrates ethical practice, transparency, and accountability, all positive attributes of any organizational culture.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby at the Wynwood Walls in Miami, FL