ACA Update: Health Care Reporting Deadline Extended by IRS

Under the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”) applicable large employers (“ALEs”) should be taking steps now to prepare to file information returns relating to the health care coverage, if any, offered to full-time employees.  Each calendar year, the ACA requires employers to determine their ALE status based on the average size of the workforce during the prior year.  Employers that had at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, on average during 2014, will be considered an ALE for 2015.  In 2016, applicable large employers must file an annual information return for the 2015 year and provide a statement to each full-time employee.

All ALEs are permitted to file electronically with the IRS.  An employer required to file 250 or more information returns for 2015, must file the returns electronically through the ACA Information Reports system.

The ACA mandates that ALEs furnish these returns to (1) full-time employees by January 31 of the year immediately following the calendar year for which the information relates and (2) the IRS by February 28 (March 31 if filed electronically).  However, on December 28, 2015, the IRS extended the due dates for the health care information reporting forms in 2016, providing ALEs with additional time to provide health coverage information for 2015 to individual taxpayers and the IRS.  For 2016, ALEs must furnish this annual information return to each full-time employee by March 31, 2016.  Similarly, they must provide this return to the IRS by May 31, 2016 (June 30, 2016, if filing electronically).  At this point, in 2017, the original deadlines shall apply.

These extensions apply automatically and are longer than the 30-day extensions that would otherwise be obtained by submitting Form 8809, Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns.  The IRS has indicated that it will not process any previously requested extensions of these deadlines for 2016, and the longer automatic extensions do not require a formal request using Form 8809 or any other documentation.

Within the next two weeks we will be publishing a supplemental Client Alert to explain in further detail which forms employers are required to use, and how to file them.

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