As promised in Notice 2015-68, the IRS has proposed clarifications to the regulations under IRC Section 6055 relating to information reporting rules for minimal essential coverage providers. These rules affect employers sponsoring self-funded health plans or self-funded health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) that coordinate with insured plans. These proposed regulations also address how employers and others solicit taxpayer identification numbers (TINs) to facilitate this reporting. These rules only impact employers and others who report on the B-series forms (1094-B and 1095-B). They do not change the reporting or solicitation rules for the C-series forms (1094-C and 1095-C).

Reporting Requirements for Employers Providing Multiple Types of Health Coverage

Information reporting is generally required of every person who provides minimum essential health coverage to an individual. However, in some cases, this reporting would be duplicative, such as where an individual is covered under a major medical plan and an HRA. Some employers and insurers complained that the existing rules preventing this duplication were confusing. The proposed regulations seek to clarify the rules on duplicate reporting.

One change is that an entity that covers an individual in more than one plan or program must only report for one of the plans or programs. Therefore, if an employer has both a self-funded health plan and an HRA that covers only the same people who are enrolled in the self-funded plan, then reporting is only required for the self-funded plan.

Additionally, if an employer offers an insured plan, but then also offers an HRA to employees enrolled in that insured plan, reporting on the HRA is not required. Here, the insurer would be required to report on the insured plan, so the IRS would already be notified that the employee has health coverage and the HRA reporting would be unnecessary.

On the other hand, if an employer offers an HRA to employees who are enrolled in their spouses’ employer’s plan, then the employer would have to report on employees covered by the HRA. These arrangements are not very common, but they do exist. This reporting still seems duplicative, but it seems that the IRS made this change to simplify the rules. Of course, this “simplification” just results in additional reporting for employers with these arrangements.

TIN Solicitation Rules

Under the reporting rules, coverage providers have to solicit TINs (which include social security numbers) if they are not provided by the employees. This is because the TINs appear on the reporting forms for every individual covered under the arrangement. There were preexisting rules for soliciting TINs that we wrote about previously. However, in response to concerns that the TIN solicitation rules were designed primarily to apply to financial relationships rather than Code Section 6055 information reporting, the proposed regulations provide specific TIN solicitation rules for Section 6055 reporting. These changes do not apply to the reporting on the C-series forms, so they will only apply to employers sponsoring self-funded plans and other coverage providers, but not to employers offering insured plans, for example. The existing rules timed the requests for TINs off of when an account is “open.” Under these rules, one solicitation generally occurs at the time the account is opened and then there are two annual solicitations after that if the TIN is not obtained.

These new rules include specifying the timing of when an account is considered “open” for purposes of Section 6055 reporting and when the two annual TIN solicitations must occur. The proposed regulations provide that, for the purpose of Section 6055 reporting, an account is considered “opened” on the date the filer receives a substantially complete application for new coverage or to add an individual to existing coverage. This could be before the coverage is actually effective or after (in the case of retroactive coverage, such as due to certain HIPAA special enrollment event). As such, health coverage providers may satisfy the requirement for initial solicitation by requesting enrollees’ TINs as part of the application for coverage.

The proposed regulations also specify the timing of the first and second annual TIN solicitations. Under these regulations, the first annual solicitation must be made no later than seventy-five days after the date on which the account was “opened” or, if coverage is retroactive, no later than the seventh-fifth day after the determination of retroactive coverage is made. Basically, this would be within 75 days after the application for coverage (or the time that application is approved, in the case of retroactive coverage). The second annual solicitation must be made by December 31 of the year following the year the account is “opened”.

To provide relief with respect to individuals already enrolled in coverage, if an individual was enrolled in coverage on any day before July 29, 2016, then the account is considered “opened” on July 29, 2016. Accordingly, employers have satisfied the initial solicitation requirement so long as TINs were requested as part of the application for coverage or at any other point prior to July 29, 2016. The deadlines for the first annual solicitation can then be made within 75 days after July 29 (or by October 12, 2016) and the second annual solicitation can be made by December 31, 2017.

Reliance and Proposed Applicable Date

These regulations are generally proposed to apply for taxable years ending after December 31, 2015. Employers may rely on these proposed regulations (and Notice 2015-68) until final regulations are published.