Two key takeaways from this guidance:

  1. In light of President-elect Trump’s initial position that he would repeal the ACA and his more recent position that he would significantly overhaul the ACA, this guidance may indicate that any changes to the ACA or its elimination are expected to be prospective and the IRS is prepared to enforce ACA penalties for 2015, 2016, and (perhaps) 2017. This guidance reiterates that failing to offer enough full-time employees coverage in 2017 will trigger a penalty of $2,260 per employee while offering coverage that is unaffordable or fails to satisfy minimum value requirements will trigger a 2017 penalty of $3,390 per affected full-time employee.
  2. Notice of penalties for 2015 are expected to go out in early 2017. This is later than earlier guidance suggested.

Some other highlights that may interest many of you:

  1. The questions and answers add details on determining the number of full-time employees and employee equivalents, which employers should use to assess whether they are ALEs.
  2. Some added circumstances help describe what will and will not qualify as an offer of coverage to full-time employees.
  3. Information was added to describe how “affordability” is affected by amounts employees may receive from employers that do not directly affect premium costs, such as HRA contributions, wellness program incentives, and opt-out payments.
  4. Additional information about completing Forms 1094-C and 1095-C are included, and it appears that the IRS intends for this guidance to be as authoritative as the instructions.