Post-Holiday Gift – ACA Reporting Deadlines Relaxed for 2016

by Bryan Cave
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We have been shouting the ACA reporting compliance deadlines from the rooftops for months now.  Well, I guess it is a case of the “boy who cried wolf”.  At the eleventh hour, the IRS has caved to a slew of complaints, concerns and continuing questions about the new (and complex) ACA reporting requirements and given employers a post-holiday present in the form of IRS Notice 2016-4.   But is it too little too late? The Notice relaxes the current deadlines for those who are not ready to file (or still have unanswered questions preventing them from filing).  Specifically, the Notice provides:

  • an automatic 60-day extension for furnishing Forms 1095-C and 1095-B to employees, and
  • an automatic three-month extension for filing the required forms with the IRS.

By “automatic”, we mean that no action is required (and nothing needs to be sent to the IRS) to avail yourself of the extension. The newly extended deadlines (for this year only) are as follows:

  • The 2015 Form 1095-B and Form 1095-C (which were originally required to be provided to the insured and/or employees by February 1, 2016 (paralleling the W-2 timeframe)) are now not due to be furnished until March 31, 2016.
  • The 2015 Forms 1095-B and Form 1095-C (which were originally required to be filed with the IRS by February 29, 2016) are now not due to be filed with the IRS until May 31, 2016 (for filings other than electronic filings).
  • For health coverage providers and employers filing electronically, the filing date with the IRS is extended from March 31, 2016, to June 30, 2016.  As a reminder, groups that file 250 or more returns are required to file electronically.

In the recent guidance, the IRS strongly encouraged those who are ready to meet the deadlines (without availing themselves of the transition relief/extensions of the Notice) to file and furnish the forms on time.  The IRS remains poised to accept filing beginning in January 2016. Note that since this relief provides automatic extensions for those who need it, no further extensions will be granted by the IRS (i.e., no extensions will be granted beyond the extensions described above).  Any previously filed extension will not be formally addressed (or granted).

Those who cannot meet the newly extended deadlines are still encouraged to file and furnish ASAP.  The IRS will consider “reasonable cause” when determining whether to abate any otherwise applicable penalties for late filing or furnishing.

A little breathing room for employers… Phew.  Now back to work.

 

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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