Once Again, IRS Extends ACA Reporting Deadlines and Offers Penalty Relief

October 13, 2020

On October 2, 2020, the IRS released Notice 2020-76, extending the deadlines for distributing ACA reporting forms to individuals.

As background, the ACA imposes two reporting requirements under Sections 6055 and 6056. Section 6055 requires entities that provide minimum essential coverage to report to the IRS and to covered individuals the months in which the individuals were covered. Section 6056 requires applicable large employers (under the employer mandate) to report to the IRS and full-time employees whether they offered minimum essential coverage that was affordable and minimum value.

This relief is consistent with that offered in previous years. As the IRS has done for the previous reporting years, the date by which employers must distribute Forms 1095-B or 1095-C to individuals has been extended. 2020 forms must now be distributed to individuals by March 2, 2021 (instead of January 31, 2021). Even though this extension is provided, employers are encouraged to furnish the 2020 statements as soon as they are able. Further, as in prior years, this notice does not extend the date by which employers must file Forms 1094-B/C and 1095-B/C with the IRS. That said, reporting entities must still file Forms 1094-B/C and 1095-B/C with the IRS by March 1, 2021 (as February 28, 2021, falls on a Sunday) if filing by paper, and March 31, 2021, if filing electronically.

Despite this relief, the IRS may still seek penalties on employers who fail to comply with the deadlines. The IRS also indicates that employers can no longer request an automatic extension of the due date by which they must distribute the forms to individuals, as the extension they have provided is just as generous. In fact, the IRS will not respond to any such request for an extension. Employers may still request an automatic extension to file the Forms 1094-B/C and 1095-B/C with the IRS, as long as they submit a Form 8809 on or before the due date of those filings.

The IRS also continues to recognize good faith efforts made by employers that file the 2020 forms. Specifically, employers that timely file and distribute their required Forms 1094-B/C and 1095-B/C will not be subject to penalties if the information is incorrect or incomplete. In determining what constitutes a good faith effort, the IRS will take into account whether an employer or other coverage provider made reasonable efforts to prepare for reporting, such as gathering and transmitting the necessary data to a reporting service provider or testing its ability to use the ACA Information Return Program electronic submission process.

Since the intention of this good faith relief was to be transitional relief, the IRS states that this is the last year they intend to provide such relief. Note that this relief does not apply to a failure to timely furnish or file a statement or return, and it does not extend to employer mandate penalties (for large employers that did not offer affordable, minimum value coverage to full-time employees pursuant to the ACA’s employer mandate).

Notably, similar to last year, this notice also provides penalty relief for employers which will allow them to forego distributing the Form 1095-B to individuals. As a reminder, this resulted from the IRS accepting comments on the necessity of the Form 1095-B now that the individual mandate penalty has been zeroed out. So, as long as employers post a notice on their website that the document is available upon request, and then fulfill any such request within 30 days, they can choose not to distribute the Forms 1095-B to covered individuals.

However, employers should note that the penalty relief pertaining to the Form 1095-B is not available for Form 1095-C, but can be applied to employees who are not full-time and only receive a Form 1095-C to meet the Form 1095-B reporting requirement. In other words, those employees who are only receiving a Form 1095-C because the employer uses Part III to comply with Section 6055 no longer have to be provided a Form 1095-C. (Self-insured applicable large employers must still provide and file Form 1095-C to full-time employees and complete Part III of the Form, indicating the covered spouses and dependents of the full-time employees.)

Although the IRS provided similar relief in the past, the agency explains that unless they receive comments to explain why relief related to furnishing statements under Sections 6055 and 6056 continues to be necessary, no relief will be granted in future years. Comments must be submitted by February 1, 2021 (Notice 2020-76 provides instructions on how to do so).

Employers should keep this guidance in mind as they are preparing their ACA filings and distributions for 2020.

IRS Notice 2020-76 »