IRS issues guidance on employer mandate

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The Internal Revenue Service handed down instructions for following the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate Thursday, and encouraged insurers and employers to start following draft rules in 2014 on a voluntary basis.

Under the ACA, businesses that employ 50 or more full-time workers must provide affordable health insurance or face penalties. In July, the Obama administration said the requirement would be pushed back to Jan. 1, 2015, a move that drew praise from many providers and observers.

Proposed rules are designed to make reporting requirements easier, the agency said. They include limited reporting for certain self-insured employers offering no-cost coverage to employees and their families. Another proposal is to eliminate the need to determine whether particular employees are full-time if adequate coverage is offered to all potentially full-time employees.

“The effort to develop these proposed information reporting rules has reflected a considered balancing of the importance of (1) providing individuals the information to complete their tax returns accurately, including with respect to the individual responsibility provisions and eligibility for the premium tax credit, (2) minimizing cost and administrative tasks for the reporting entities and individuals, and (3) providing the IRS with information needed for effective and efficient tax administration,” the IRS wrote.

The IRS estimates 95% of companies already offer healthcare coverage. The public is invited to submit comments through early November.

The full guidance can be seen in the Federal Register.