In case you haven’t heard, the IRS deadlines for Affordable Care Act reporting requirements have
been pushed back. For companies that are on the ball and scrambled to do whatever they had to do to make the deadlines, this is an annoyance. It’s like people who prepared for a test and they were totally ready with their sharpened pencils and their full night’s sleep and their memorized facts and they find out the test has been postponed because other students complained they weren’t ready and the material was too hard. For the students who felt like the requirements were demanding too much of them right now—especially in light of the fact that Congress is always talking about dismantling ACA altogether—this is a great break. But procrastinating companies beware: Use this IRS ACA deadline reprieve wisely.
Basically the deadlines were for employers that are required to cover employees’ health insurance and have to fill out forms 1094-1095 B and C, “Employer Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage.” The instructions for filling these out are seven pages of small type on the IRS website. Rules for this process include that employers don’t have to report information on employees who are covered by marketplace health insurance or government health insurance—generally—but they do have to report coverage through the Small Business Health Options program. And next year they will have to report on people who get only catastrophic coverage through the marketplace. And that’s just an amuse bouche…. To start reading the whole document go here and here.
The deadlines for giving employees the correct documents to fill out was going to be Feb. 1 and that’s been moved to March 31. Providing that information about employee insurance to the IRS was supposed to happen by February 29th, and now it’s been pushed back to the end of May—or June if you’re filing electronically.
The thing is, this is another one of those points where you can see that the kind of CEO or CFO you are is pretty connected to the kind of person you are. There will always be those people who are totally ready for the test. They get to the movie theater 20 minutes before show time. They think that they should fill up when the gas tank is half empty. They buy presents throughout the year for upcoming occasions and always have wrapping paper and tape available. These people said: “There is a deadline and I believe it’s real. I need to find a creative, probably tech-oriented way to meet this deadline.” And they did.
Then there are people who peel into the parking lot 10 minutes after the show was supposed to start, knowing that the previews will take at least that long. When their gas tank is on E, they figure they still have 20 more miles and they are always the ones buying a gift bag on the way to the birthday party. These people said: “Are you kidding me? There’s no way. Maybe they’ll move the deadlines again.” And they did.
Clearly there are more of the latter type, enough to make them push back the deadlines anyway. But I’m thinking this is a great opportunity for those people to consider changing their habits. Let’s face it, there was no ready-made software to handle this process so companies needed to figure out how they were going to handle ACA reporting. If they just reacted, hiring someone to do it all manually, that level of documentation is cumbersome and laborious. Done by hand it would take thousands of hours and cost a company tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even so, they hoped there would be a reprieve. Other people knew they were going to have to bite the bullet and figure out a way to get it done on time so they developed or bought a software program to help them meet the deadline. It kind of reflects a way of thinking. One kind of person looks at challenges coming up and says “What can I do to meet and be ahead of these challenges?” including adapting to new rules and technologies. The other kind of person says “Maybe these rules will change and go away and I can continue using the same methods I’ve had since 1982.”
Not that I don’t understand the perspective of the latter person, but we’re not there anymore. Change happens and it happens faster all the time. Refusing to acknowledge it just makes it more likely that it will run you over. There is a secret to preparing for this fast-moving future and that is to see technology as your friend, capable of making impossible goals, like the ACA deadlines, possible. As long as you meet them head-on, and with all the extra prep time you’ve been granted.
So the deadlines are pushed back: Woohoo! Take this break and figure out how to get ahead. Because the next deadline is coming.
We work with companies on a project basis or on retainer, providing a custom level of HR help designed for your business, with offices in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. Contact me at Caroline@valentinehr.com or call (512) 420-8267.