The health care law contains tax provisions that affect employers. Two parts of the Affordable Care Act apply only to applicable large employers. These are the employer shared responsibility provisions and the employer information reporting provisions for offers of minimum essential coverage.

The size and structure of a workforce determines which parts of the law apply to which employers. Applicable large employers are generally those with 50 or more full-time employees or full-time equivalent employees. Under the employer shared responsibility provision, ALEs are required to offer their full-time employees and dependents affordable coverage that provides minimum value. Employers with fewer than 50 full-time or full-time equivalent employees are not applicable large employers.

As such, calculating the number of employees is especially important for employers that have close to 50 employees or whose workforce fluctuates during the year. You will use information about the size of your workforce during 2019 to determine if your organization is an Applicable large employer (ALE) for 2020.

Who is a Full-time Employee?

There are many additional rules on determining who is a full-time employee, including what counts as hours of service, but in general:

  • A full-time employee is an employee who is employed on average, per month, at least 30 hours of service per week, or at least 130 hours of service in a calendar month.
  • A full-time equivalent employee is a combination of employees, each of whom individually is not a full-time employee, but who, in combination, are equivalent to a full-time employee.
  • An aggregated group is commonly owned or otherwise related or affiliated employers, which must combine their employees to determine their workforce size.

Figuring the Size of the Workforce

To determine your workforce size for a year, you add your total number of full-time employees for each month of the prior calendar year to the total number of full-time equivalent employees for each calendar month of the prior calendar year and divide that total number by 12. If the result is 50 or more employees, you are an applicable large employer.

Employers with Fewer than 50 Employees

If an employer has fewer than 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, on average during the prior year, the employer is not an ALE for the current calendar year. Therefore, the employer is not subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions or the employer information reporting provisions for the current year.

Information Reporting (Including Self-Insured Employers)

All providers of health coverage, including employers that provide self-insured coverage, must file annual returns with the IRS reporting information about the coverage and about each covered individual. The coverage is reported on Form 1095-B, Health Coverage and the employer must also furnish a copy of Form 1095-B to the employee by March 2, 2020.

Tax Credits

Certain employers may be eligible for the small business health care tax credit if they:

  1. cover at least 50 percent of employees’ premium costs
  2. have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees with average annual wages of less than $54,200 in 2019 (indexed for inflation)
  3. purchase their coverage through the Small Business Health Options Program.

Employers with fewer than 50 full-time employees or full-time equivalent employees are not subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions.

Employers with 50 or More Employees

Information Reporting

All employers including applicable large employers that provide self-insured health coverage must file an annual return for individuals they cover, and provide a statement to responsible individuals.

Applicable large employers must file an annual return–and provide a statement to each full-time employee–reporting whether they offered health insurance, and if so, what insurance they offered their employees.

ALEs are required to furnish a statement to each full-time employee that includes the same information provided to the IRS by March 2, 2020. ALEs that file 250 or more information returns during the calendar year must file the returns electronically.

Employer Shared Responsibility Payment

ALEs are subject to the employer shared responsibility payment if at least one full-time employee receives the premium tax credit and any one these conditions apply. The ALE:

  • failed to offer coverage to full-time employees and their dependents
  • offered coverage that was not affordable
  • offered coverage that did not provide a minimum level of coverage

Questions? Don’t hesitate to call.

Another New Design for Form 1040

The new 2019 Form 1040, which was redesigned last year to be “postcard-sized” has been revised yet again. As with last year’s design, the form gathers information about the taxpayer(s) and dependents. It is also the form you need to sign and date when filing your return. New for this year, taxpayers aged 65 and older may be able to use Form 1040-SR (see below for more information).

More complex tax situations will generally require using one or more of the supplemental schedules that were also new for 2018, but which for 2019, have been consolidated into three schedules (Schedules 1, 2, and 3). Of note, is that the 2018 Schedule 6, Foreign Address and Third Party Designee, has been incorporated into the Form 1040.

As in 2018, Forms 1040A and 1040EZ no longer exist. Instead, taxpayers should use Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR.

Virtual Currency Questions

For the 2019 tax year, taxpayers who engaged in a transaction that involved virtual currency (e.g., Bitcoin and Ether) will need to file Schedule 1, Additional Income and Adjustments To Income. Taxpayers are reminded to maintain records that support any information provided on their tax returns such as records documenting receipts, sales, exchanges or other dispositions of virtual currency and the fair market value of the virtual currency.

Refunds

While more than nine out of 10 refunds are issued in less than 21 days, some tax returns require additional review and take longer to process than others. This may be necessary when a return has errors, is incomplete or is affected by identity theft or fraud.

Furthermore, tax law requires that the IRS hold refunds on tax returns claiming the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) or Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) until mid-February – even the portion not associated with the EITC or ACTC. Even so, most of these types of refunds are expected to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards by the first week of March as long as the taxpayer chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return.

As a reminder, once refunds are issued by the IRS there may be additional time for processing by financial institutions, which must accept and deposit the refunds to bank accounts and products. Typically, refunds and payments are not processed on weekends or holidays, which can affect when refunds reach taxpayers. Refund information will generally be available within 24 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of an electronically filed return.

Tax Filing Deadline

For most taxpayers the filing deadline to submit 2019 tax returns is Wednesday, April 15, 2020; however, there’s no better time than right now to begin gathering information needed to prepare your tax return.

Questions?

If you have any questions about the new tax forms or need assistance preparing and filing your tax return, help is just a phone call away.

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