IRS Once Again Extends Distribution (Not Filing) Deadline for ACA Reporting and Continues Good Faith Standard

by Proskauer - Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Blog
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Following the old “better late than never” axiom, the IRS recently announced (see Notice 2018-06) that once again it would be extending the distribution (but not filing) deadline for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting requirements set forth in Sections 6055 and 6056 of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”). Under Code Section 6055, health coverage providers are required to file with the IRS, and distribute to covered individuals, forms showing the months in which the individuals were covered by “minimum essential coverage.” Under Code Section 6056, applicable large employers (generally, those with 50 or more full-time employees and equivalents) are required to file with the IRS, and distribute to employees, forms containing detailed information regarding offers of, and enrollment in, health coverage. In most cases, employers and coverage providers will use Forms 1094-B and 1095-B and/or Forms 1094-C and 1095-C. The chart below shows the new deadline for distributing the forms.

  Old Deadline New Deadline
Deadline to Distribute Forms to Employees and Covered Individuals Jan. 31, 2018 March 2, 2018
Deadline to File with the IRS Feb. 28, 2018 (paper)

April 2, 2018 (electronic)

NO CHANGE

The regulations issued under Code Section 6055 and 6056 allow for an automatic 30-day extension to distribute and file the forms if good cause exists. An additional 30-day is extension is available upon application to the IRS. Notice 2018-06 provides that, as was the case last year, these extensions do not apply to the extended due date for the distribution of the forms, but they do apply to the unchanged deadline to file the forms with the IRS.

Perhaps more significantly to many, the IRS carried over from last year a second valuable measure of relief. Specifically, the IRS continued the interim good faith compliance standard under which the IRS will not assess a penalty for incomplete or incorrect information on the reporting forms if a filer can show that it completed the forms in good faith. As was the case last year, this relief only applies if the forms were filed on time. Thus, filers would be wise to distribute and file forms, even imperfect ones, timely and should document their good faith efforts.

Those that do not file by the new deadlines have a more uphill battle to avoid penalties under Code Sections 6721 and 6722. The IRS stated in Notice 2018-06 that it would apply a reasonable cause analysis when determining the penalty amount for a late filer. According to the IRS, this analysis will take into account such things as whether reasonable efforts were made to prepare for filing (e.g., gathering and transmitting data to an agent or testing its own ability to transmit information to the IRS) and the extent to which the filer is taking steps to ensure that it can comply with the reporting requirements for 2017.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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