Yesterday, the US Treasury Department announced the they are delaying the mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly called Obamacare) by one year. These requirements, which apply to every employer who has more than 50 full-time workers to provide certain health care benefits to their employees and to report very specifically on those benefits or pay crippling fines, were originally scheduled to take effect in 2014. Now they will not take effect until 2015. According to Mark Mazur, Assistant Secretary of Tax Policy, this delay serves two goals: "First, it will allow us to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law. Second, it will provide time to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers are moving toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees."
The post on the treasury's website, optimistically titled "Continuing to Implement the ACA in a Careful, Thoughtful Manner," says, "We recognize that the vast majority of businesses that will need to do this reporting already provide health insurance to their workers, and we want to make sure it is easy for others to do so." The Treasury promises formal guidelines regarding this "transition" within the next week or so. The Treasury goes on to say that "We recognize that this transition relief will make it impractical to determine which employers owe shared responsibility payments (under section 4980H) for 2014. Accordingly, we are extending this transition relief to the employer shared responsibility payments. These payments will not apply for 2014. Any employer shared responsibility payments will not apply until 2015."
While some commentators call this delay of a crucial rule of the ACA "mind boggling," most see it as a purely political move to push something that is moderately described as "likely to cost jobs" and more emotionally described as "a trainwreck" past the 2014 midterm elections to soften the expected political blow to those up for reelection. What is truly mind boggling, however, is that the requirements on reporting are currently described in sections 6055 and 6056 of the ACA. Six thousand!
Regardless of the motives of lawmakers, Dundee Group and Sage will continue to work with our customers to make sure that everything that can humanly be done to meet the requirements of these laws will be tried. We will update you as more information is released.