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Monday, January 30, 2017

Paper Filers Have One Month Left to File ACA Forms


You may recall last year, amidst the turmoil of how to file the reporting forms associated with the Affordable Care Act, the IRS offered a bit of relief in the form of filing deadline extensions.

No such luck this year.

This year, amidst the turmoil of whether or not to file the reporting forms associated with the Affordable Care Act (hey, we’re sensing a theme here), we still have to file by the original filing deadlines. At least, those of us who want to remain in compliance with what is still technically the law will still have to file by the original filing deadlines.

And for paper filers, that means the end of February!

Those who plan to complete paper copies of Form 1095-B or 1095-C must mail them into the IRS, along with the appropriate 1094 Form, by February 28, 2017.

If you’d like to get a little bit of an automatic extension, though, you can choose to e-file and get an extra thirty days instead! The e-filing deadline isn’t until March 31, and you don’t even need to alert the IRS or anybody that you plan to e-file rather than paper file.

E-filing (especially with ACAwise) is easier, faster, and more secure than paper filing. Plus, if you have more than 250 forms to file, the IRS requires you to e-file. If you’re not too sure about the process, though, or would still like a few questions answered, you can always give one of our customer support reps a call or set up a free demo!

Of course, if you’d still like to paper file, we totally understand and wish you the best of luck! (We also give you a friendly reminder that we provide simple ACA corrections in case that doesn’t turn out as well as you hope.) And don’t forget to file by February 28!


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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Future of the Affordable Care Act


Welcome back! When we last met, we talked about the history of the Affordable Care Act. And with the tumultuous present it’s experiencing, we figured we’d take a moment to discuss the future of the Act.

As you may be aware, President Trump’s first executive order, signed the Friday he was inaugurated, targeted the ACA, giving federal agencies broad leeway to chip away at the Act’s requirements. His one-page directive gives agencies the authority to grant waivers, exemptions, and delays of provisions in ACA compliance.

The full impact on Americans and their health insurance, however, won’t become apparent until federal agencies respond to these waivers and exemptions. You can read the full text of the order here. But for some answers to the more common questions about it, keep reading here.

What does Trump’s executive order do?
Basically, Trump’s order states that federal agencies can grant waivers, exemptions, and delays of ACA provisions that impose costs on states or individuals. This appears to be so that one of the law’s most unpopular requirements - that individuals have health insurance or pay a fine - is undone while Congress decides the ultimate fate of the ACA (more on that later).

The order doesn’t give us much to go on with regards to whether the IRS will waive fines for those failing to secure coverage since the order’s issue. Additionally, the White House hasn’t explained how it wants the agencies to respond. It does, however, direct agencies to stop issuing regulations that would expand the Act’s reach. Additionally, the federal government must allow states greater flexibility in carrying out health care programs.

Will those who have insurance under the ACA lose coverage as a result of this order?
Since the order doesn’t directly target the insurance marketplace, various experts have said that it could lead to broad exemptions from the law’s coverage requirement which could scare off insurers.

You see, insurers currently see the coverage requirement as a tool to nudge healthy people into buying coverage. Without this requirement, companies and most independent experts believe premiums would spike, effectively making HealthCare.gov’s insurance markets unsustainable.

How quickly will any changes take effect?
New regulations cannot be issued overnight, and this executive order may not have much of an impact in 2017. Government rules for this year have already been incorporated into insurance contracts, and departments like the Health and Human Services and the Treasury would have to issue policies that embody the order’s outline.

What is Congress’s plan for the ACA?
Republicans fought hard to keep the ACA from even passing, so with control of both the White House and Congress, it’s evident that undoing the Act is at the top of the party’s agenda this year. While it’s generally agreed that the Act will be repealed by Congress, their replacement for the law is far less certain.

Ideally - and according to Trump, shortly before he took office - Congress will pass the repeal and replace measures “essential simultaneously.” Ambiguity still surrounds what exactly will be included in a replacement package, but Trump has said his administration will have a plan once the Senate confirms Rep. Tom Price, his nominee for the Department of Health and Human Services. For now, we can only speculate what this replacement package will include.

As for ACAwise…
So long as the Affordable Care Act is still in play, so are we! While the future of the ACA may be uncertain, we’re still here, still e-filing ACA Forms for the 2015 and 2016 tax years. To get started, just sign up over at ACAwise.com!



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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The History of the Affordable Care Act


With the future of the Affordable Care Act up in the air, we thought we’d take a minute to look back and see just where this controversial piece of legislature came from.

Inception
The Affordable Care Act as we know it was first proposed when former President Obama was still campaigning in 2008, before his first presidential election. While his concept was hardly new - Democratic presidents had unsuccessfully pursued creating a nationwide insurance system for 75 years - it was proposed as “the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history.”

Because the Affordable Care Act became such a cornerstone for Obama’s campaign, it’s widely known as Obamacare, although its full official title is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Conception
Much of the political action surrounding the ACA happened in 2009, the first year of Obama’s presidency. It was on July 14 of this year that House Democrats introduced a 1000-page plan for overhauling the current health care system. Many of our readers may remember the debating that raged throughout that summer (and beyond) as a result of this document.

While the Act was meant to extend insurance to more than 30 million uninsured Americans (primarily by expanding Medicaid and providing federal subsidies to help lower- and middle-income Americans buy private coverage), 26 states as well as the National Federation of Independent Business brought suit in federal court to challenge the mandate that individuals carry insurance or pay a penalty as well as the Medicaid expansion provisions.

House leader John Boehner at the time even said, “This so-called public option is going to force millions of Americans out of their private health insurance into a government-run plan.”

Later that September, Obama addressed critics of the Act via a joint Congress session. He even cited a letter from the recently deceased Sen. Ted Kennedy who urged for the passing of the ACA, calling it a “moral issue” above all that addressed the “fundamental principles of social justice.”

Execution
Despite the debating, the US House approved its version of the ACA with a 220-215 vote on November 7, 2009. The senate passed its version later on December 24, after a 60-39 vote. The Senate bill was then amended and approved by the House in a 219-212 vote on March 21, 2010. In this vote, all Republican representatives voted against the bill.

But even with their overwhelming opposition, the Act passed and many nationwide concerns were addressed in its newer versions. The Act pointed out that “nothing in this Act or anywhere in the bill forces anyone to change the insurance they have, period.” It also vowed a “new, transparent and competitive insurance marketplace.”

President Obama signed the bill into law in March 2010 with its major provisions to go into effect beginning January 1, 2014. Significant changes did occur between 2010 and 2014 to prepare insurance providers as well as private citizens for the provisions that would take effect in 2014.

At its signing, Obama reiterated that the ACA affirms “the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care.”



Now that you know the history, stay tuned for our next blog to learn more about the uncertain future of the Affordable Care Act!




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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

ACA E-filing with 1095-C Code Generation


Hey there, ACAwise users!

Did you know that when you e-file with ACAwise, you don’t even need to figure out the indicator codes required in lines 14 and 16 of Form 1095-C first?

That’s because with our full-service Crosswalk feature, all you need to do is enter in your employee and health benefits data and it can figure out the rest!

Based on the data you upload, ACAwise can determine the necessary codes for lines 14 and 16, which are needed to give the IRS more details on the health coverage you offered and whether or not it was ACA compliant.

So if you don’t know what codes you need or don’t want to take the time to decipher the IRS’s ACA codes, just use our Crosswalk feature! It’s just another way we help make your ACA filing as easy, fast, and secure as possible. Simply log in, upload your info, and select the Crosswalk feature. Then, all you have to do is wait for us to generate your forms, complete with codes on lines 14 and 16, review them, and e-file them directly with the IRS.

And, of course, if you have any questions during the process, our customer support staff is here to help! We offer assistance by phone (704-954-8420) and live chat Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST. We also provide email support 24/7 at support@ACAwise.com.

Give us a call today to help you get started filing or to schedule a demo to learn everything you can about ACAwise!



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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

An Overview of Designated Government Entities


A term present on your Affordable Care Act forms that may need a bit of explaining is “Designated Government Entity” (or DGE, for short).

What’s a DGE? And are you one? Does it even matter?

That last one was a trick question - this is the IRS, of course it matters! And that’s why we’re here to shed some light on the situation.

What is a Designated Government Entity?
The official definition of a DGE is “a person or persons that are part of or related to the Governmental Unit that is the ALE Member and that is appropriately designated for purposes of these reporting requirements.”

In other words, for every Governmental Unit that is also an Applicable Large Employer (ALE), there will be a designated person or persons (the DGE) who will report the Governmental Unit’s required ACA documents.

The Purpose of a DGE
The DGE is there to ensure that this particular Governmental Unit files the required 1094-C and 1095-C Forms for the Governmental Unit’s employees. One of the filed 1094-C Forms must be marked by the DGE as the Authoritative Transmittal form. DGEs are also responsible for the aggregate employer-level data as required in Parts II, III, and IV of Form 1094-C for the Governmental Unit.

Filing with ACAwise
DGEs and non-DGE ALEs alike can easily complete ACA e-filing with ACAwise! Just check out our website to learn more or schedule a free demo to get an in-depth exclusive look before you even set up an account!


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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

ACA Form Corrections



So you’ve gotten everything in line regarding your Affordable Care Act compliance. You’ve even completely filled out and securely filed your ACA Forms 1094 and 1095 - and ahead of time too!

But, uh-oh. What’s this?

You’ve received notice from the IRS that your ACA return has only been partially accepted or rejected altogether due to form errors? What does partially accepted even mean? And what do you need to do now?

First things first, when your forms are processed by the IRS, they’ll either be accepted, rejected, or accepted with errors. The only instance when you don’t need to take further action is if your return is accepted. Otherwise, it’s time to jump back into ACA filing.

Like any other information return, as soon as you realize you need to file ACA corrections, you’ll need to start work doing so. The ACA reporting penalties apply to corrected returns filed late to amend previously filed returns, so you don’t want to wait til the last minute to get things fixed.

The correctable ACA Forms are Form 1094-C, 1095-B, and 1095-C. You can make a correction to any of these forms when the IRS notifies you (or when you notice) one or more errors on the forms you filed.

On Form 1094-C, you may need to correct:
  • -the name or EIN of the employer/ALE member or designated government entity,
  • -the total number of 1095-C Forms accompanying the transmittal form,
  • -the aggregated group membership or indicator,
  • -certifications of eligibility,
  • -minimum essential coverage (MEC) indicator,
  • -full-time employee count, or
  • -section 4980H relief indicator.

On Forms 1095-B or 1095-C, you may need to correct:
  • -the employer EIN,
  • -the employee/recipient name and SSN,
  • -the offer of coverage,
  • -the premium amount, or
  • -safe harbor or other relief codes.


Whether your return was accepted with errors or outright rejected, ACAwise can help get your corrected forms in as quickly as possible. And if you filed your original return with ACAwise, we can help get them done even faster than that!

If you filed your return with ACAwise and it’s rejected or you need to make corrections, simply log back into your ACAwise account and follow the directions to amend and re-file your return. If you filed elsewhere, that’s fine! Just create an ACAwise account and, once at your dashboard, follow the steps to file ACA correction forms.

If you try to file corrections with the IRS or elsewhere, you could be facing a lot of complicated coding and guesswork to make sure your forms are corrected properly. With ACAwise, it’s as simple as following the built-in instructions created by the IRS e-filing experts behind ACAwise and securely re-transmitting your returns with the IRS.



For questions regarding ACA e-filing (corrections or otherwise!), don’t hesitate to contact our all-star support team, right here in Rock Hill, South Carolina. We’re available by phone (704-954-8420) and live chat as well as by email at support@ACAwise.com.


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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

How Employer ACA Penalties are Determined


Affordable Care Act penalties are no joke.

For one thing, you’ve got the reporting penalties. If you fail to report your ACA Forms or send them in late, you could pay up to $260 per form with a maximum penalty of $3,193,000 per year.

But in addition to this, your business can incur penalties if you don’t provide health insurance that meets the minimum essential coverage (MEC) to a certain amount of your employees.

A penalty of $180 per employee per month they weren’t covered is charged for each employee for which coverage wasn’t offered. This comes out to $2,160 per employee per year if they didn’t receive coverage at all during the calendar year.

Under general ACA rules, however, the penalty does not apply to the first 30 full-time employees. So if an employer has 200 employees and didn’t offer MEC to them for any given month, their monthly penalty would be $30,600 [(200-30) * $180]. If coverage wasn’t offered for the entire year, this number jumps to $367,200.

Needless to say, offering coverage and reporting that coverage is imperative to remaining compliant with the Affordable Care Act. And one of the easiest ways to do that is to handle your ACA compliance and e-filing with ACAwise!

ACAwise offers full-service ACA e-filing and compliance management for anyone who needs to complete ACA compliance, from small business owners to applicable large employers to third party administrators. Check out our website or request a free demo to learn more!


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