ACA reporting deadlines are coming faster than you think

Penalties for not complying with the Affordable Care Act are getting steeper for businesses.

Businesses have less time for ACA reporting in 2017.

In 2015, the IRS extended the timeline for businesses to submit paperwork related to ACA compliance. But this year, the agency has moved up the deadline for the upcoming tax season, meaning companies need to start preparing as soon as possible.

In the 2016 tax year, businesses must file their 1095-B and 1095-C forms by January 31, 2017, according to the Society for Human Resource Management . Additionally, they must submit their 1094-B and 1094-C forms by February 28, 2017 if they are filing on paper, or face a March 31 deadline if they decide to turn in their documents electronically. Businesses with more than 250 employees are required to submit their paperwork electronically.

Companies with 50 or more employees must provide coverage to at least 95 percent of their workers."

To accommodate the quicker turnaround this year, business owners should start organizing their files much sooner. Human resources and accounting personnel, in addition to a chief financial officer, should come together to ensure nothing is missed before the submission deadline. The Affordable Care Act's reporting requirements under the law's shared responsibility mandate have also gotten stricter this year, which might surprise some businesses.

New regulations and harsher penalties for businesses

In the 2015 tax year, businesses with 100 or more employees were required to provide health care coverage to at least 70 percent of their employees. This year, the law mandates that companies with 50 or more employees cover at least 95 percent, according to the IRS.Those businesses that fail to submit forms in a timely manner might be subject to fines as much as $500 per missing form or for each paper with incorrect information on it, Fuse Workforce Management reported.

"Some employers may not understand that it's not 95 percent [averaged out] for the year, it's 95 percent for each one of the months," Todd Praisner, CEO of Tango Health, told the Society for Human Resource Management. "If you had a month where you're below 95 percent, you're exposed."

Businesses with 50 or fewer employees have found the new mandates most burdensome, according to a new HUB International survey. The survey found that 69 percent of these businesses rank ACA compliance as their top concern.

For employers who wish to see a complete list of new ACA rules and regulations, they may find them at the Federal Register's website.