On Aug. 18, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a finalized test package and guidelines for employers reporting under Internal Revenue Code Sections 6055 and 6056. The new guidelines and test package are intended to help employers and technology companies securely facilitate the electronic transmission of these reports.
Employers filing 250 or more returns under Sections 6055 and 6056 are required to electronically report information regarding the health plan coverage they provide (or do not provide) to employees. Additionally, employers filing less than 250 returns during the 2015 calendar year may file in paper form, but are permitted (and encouraged) to file electronically.
The finalized guidelines, titled Publication 5165, Guide for Electronically Filing ACA Information Returns for Software Developers and Transmitters (Pub. 5165), provide technical information and standards for the facilitation of electronic reporting for 2015 through the ACA Information Returns (AIR) program. The AIR program is scheduled to become available on Oct. 22, 2015. Employers submitting forms electronically through the AIR program must obtain log-in credentials by completing the e-Services Registration. Additionally, employers must log in within 28 days in order to confirm their registration and activate their accounts.
Information on the ACA Assurance Testing System (AATS) is provided in Pub. 5164, Test Package for Electronic Filers of ACA Information Returns. Testing scenarios for electronic reporting are currently available through the AATS.
A waiver from the electronic reporting requirement was proposed in the 2015 draft instructions for reporting under Sections 6055 and 6056. In order to receive a waiver, employers must submit Form 8508, Request for Waiver From Filing Information Returns Electronically at least 45 days before the return due date. Employers that are required to file electronically but fail to do so without an approved waiver may be fined a penalty of up to $250 per return.