What employers should know about the new ACA reporting deadline

Employers should start now to figure out their ACA reporting obligation.

The IRS just changed ACA reporting deadlines, again. 

The agency announced an extension to the deadline for employers to deliver Forms 1095-C and 1095-B to their employees, which relate to Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage and Health Coverage, respectively. In its notice, the IRS stated that a large number of employers need more time to gather and analyze information to complete these forms accurately.

Now, employers will have until March 2, 2017 to deliver these forms to their employees. The previous deadline was Jan. 31, 2017.

"The IRS announcement is welcome news to many employers still struggling to interpret and apply the IRS instructions to their reporting obligation," Marcus Wilbers, a compliance attorney at St. Louis law firm J.W. Terrill told the Society for Human Resource Management.

Although many employers are relieved by the extension, it is shorter than the one the IRS gave for the 2015 tax year, The National Law Review noted. Last year, employers were given until March 31 to file these forms. Additionally, the deadlines for submitting these forms to the IRS remain the same. Companies need to submit paper documentation to the agency by Feb. 28, 2017 or March 31, 2017 if filing electronically. 

It's critical for employers to understand that there is no automatic extension to file ACA reporting documents with the IRS. If employers need extra time, they will have to submit Form 8809 by the ACA reporting deadline to request more time, SHRM reported.

The IRS also announced it will continue its transition relief policy for employers. The policy shows leniency toward employers who might have filed ACA reporting paperwork incorrectly but made a significant effort to report everything accurately, according to the IRS notice.

Employers who make mistakes regarding information such as inaccurate taxpayer identification numbers or missing information will not be subject to IRS penalties, but those who do not meet reporting deadlines will be, the source noted. The IRS will administer a facts and circumstances test to determine whether an employer will be exempt from ACA reporting penalties, the National Law Review explained.

Although the future of the Affordable Care Act under a new presidential administration is unclear, employers should proceed with submitting all ACA reporting documents to the IRS in a timely fashion.