That Was Fun, Right?

By Jennifer Reed
Gus Bates Insurance & Investments
Fort Worth Human Resource Management Association

Affordable Care Act Reporting for 2015 was torture for many HR departments; here’s how to get on top of it for next year.

There are many topics when it comes to ACA that I joke about and should only be discussed over drinks;  2015 ACA reporting for Applicable Large Employers (ALE) could easily fall into that category.

Even if you did not directly help your organization get through the 2015 ACA reporting, I am sure you felt your HR department go into project mode for months on end trying to figure it all out. Hopefully, your organization is not one of the many who still hasn’t filed for 2015, because the IRS emphasized that they would not respond to extension requests for 2015 because delays were more generous than what they would approve. Since a failure to file relates to both the information return and the employee statement, to the tune of $520/individual, most organizations were forced to just get it done and not worry about errors for 2015 reporting.

Not to mention, most companies that invested heavily in HR Technology to automate this part of the process found their investment only helped their HR department minimally, if at all, for 2015. In addition to the many hours invested by HR departments, some companies were spending an average of $2-$6 per 1095-C (not considering the ongoing cost) only to find out that all their forms were incorrect.

Now the question becomes: How does your organization learn from 2015 and conquer ACA reporting for 2016 without investing so much of the HR Department’s time and resources?

Invest in Technology I know this area was quite a disappointment in regards to 2015 ACA reporting services. But this will improve now that technology companies have had the first go around with the IRS. The upside with HR technology companies that filed electronically is that they will receive an error report from the IRS to learn from; whereas, employers that filed manually with the IRS will not receive feedback regarding if they filed correctly. Knowing what mistakes were made in 2015 will be critical for the success in 2016.

Work with an insurance broker who is not afraid to get his or her hands dirty with ACA. Many benefit brokers decided to take a hands-off approach in regard to ACA reporting. This has provided more service opportunities for others that invested in resources to navigate their clients through ACA reporting. 

Have a legal resource that you trust available. This law is so complex that even some attorneys have misinterpreted it. Those situations may unfortunately harm their customers in 2016.

Jennifer Reed leads the compliance and HR Technology Consulting practice at Gus Bates Insurance & Investments. She is writing this column on behalf of the Fort Worth Human Resource Management Association, a new regular contributor to FW Inc.