With three months remaining in 2015, the IRS has issued final forms and instructions that employers will need to use to satisfy the Affordable Care Act (ACA) information reporting requirements. The final forms and instructions, which implement the reporting requirements under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Sections 6055 and 6056, largely adopt the structure and format of the draft forms and instructions that were released in August of 2015 and described in our prior alert. The information reporting obligations generally require employers with 50 or more full-time employees to report certain information to their employees and to the IRS that will allow the IRS to enforce the penalty mechanism set forth in the ACA’s employer and individual mandates. The final forms and instructions that the IRS issued are here:

Steps that Employers Should Take Now to Prepare

With the first information reports due to employees by February 1, 2016, employers that do not yet have a strategy for addressing the ACA information reporting requirements should begin to consider the steps they will need to take to be ready to meet these requirements. The rules permit employers to rely on a third party vendor to assist with the preparation and filing of information reports. Employers that plan on using an outside vendor should finalize the details of any service arrangements and clarify what responsibilities the vendor will be assuming on their behalf. Employers that plan on completing the process without outside assistance should carefully review the final forms and instructions to ensure that they have systems in place to track the required data about their group health coverage, employee eligibility, participant enrollment, affordability, and other data that the IRS is requiring employers to report.

As we discussed in a prior alert, employers filing 250 or more information returns will need to file those returns electronically with the IRS. Employers that plan on doing this on their own should begin the process of registering with IRS e-services (which can take up to a month) and ensure that their organization has adequate IT capabilities to submit the reports to the IRS by March 31, 2016.