Health Care Reform Update: Guidance Issued on W-2 Reporting of the Cost of Employer-Sponsored Group Health Plan Coverage

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On March 29, the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") issued Notice 2011-28, providing transition guidance and relief regarding the requirement to report the cost of employer-sponsored group health plan coverage on Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement ("Form W-2"). The guidance requires most employers to begin reporting the cost of employer-sponsored health care coverage on Forms W-2 for the 2012 calendar year (generally issued in January 2013).

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the "ACA") requires employers to report the aggregate cost of employer-sponsored health coverage (whether paid by the employer or the employee) on an employee's Form W-2. The Form W-2 reporting requirement is for informational purposes only and is meant to provide employees with useful and comparable consumer information on the cost of their health care coverage. This requirement was slated to go into effect for the 2011 calendar year, but the IRS in Notice 2010-69 made compliance for the 2011 calendar year optional. Notice 2011-28 provides that for most employers the reporting requirement will be mandatory for the 2012 calendar year and also provides useful guidance regarding how to satisfy the requirement.

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