Treasury postpones employer health care penalty, information reporting for one year

BY ALISTAIR M. NEVIUS, J.D.

Large employers that fail to provide minimum health coverage for employees will not be subject to the shared-responsibility penalty until 2015 after Treasury announced on Tuesday that it would delay certain provisions of 2010’s health care legislation.

In a Treasury blog post titled, “Continuing to Implement the ACA in a Careful, Thoughtful Manner,” Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Mark Mazur wrote that the government “will provide an additional year before the ACA [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements begin.”

Mazur wrote that Treasury expects to soon publish proposed regulations implementing the Sec. 6055 information-reporting requirements for insurers, self-insuring employers, and other parties that provide health coverage, and the Sec. 6056 information-reporting requirements for employers that provide health coverage to their full-time employees. The effective date for these provisions, he wrote, will be 2015, although the government will encourage voluntary compliance in 2014. (The original effective date for both Code sections was 2014.)

Because the 2015 effective date for the proposed regulations under Secs. 6055 and 6056 will make it difficult to determine which employers are liable for the shared-responsibility penalty under Sec. 4980H, enforcement of that penalty is also being postponed until 2015, Mazur wrote.

An employer is an “applicable large employer” for a calendar year if, during the preceding calendar year, it employed on average at least 50 full-time employees. An employee is a full-time employee for any month if he or she was employed, on average, at least 30 hours per week.

Mazur emphasized that the postponement of these provisions will not affect individuals’ access to premium tax credits under Sec. 36B.

Mazur wrote that the postponement will help the government achieve two goals: “First, it will allow us to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law. Second, it will provide time to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers are moving toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees.”

Guidance that formalizes the changes announced in the blog post is expected, according to Mazur, within a week.

Alistair Nevius ( anevius@aicpa.org ) is the JofA’s editor-in-chief, tax.

SPONSORED REPORT

Questions to ask before committing to the cloud

Cloud computing has its pros and cons. In this report, we answer common questions CPAs may have as they consider transitioning partially or fully to the cloud.

QUIZ

News quiz: IRS reopens an online service, but criticism endures

The IRS brings back the Get Transcript Online service, but the agency faces criticism for its handling of the aftermath of the event that led to the shutdown of the service. See how much you know about other recent news with this quiz.

CHECKLIST

Auditing risks in culture

Cultural flaws can seriously damage an organization. Here’s how internal auditors can reduce risks by embedding culture audits into existing audit programs.