American Benefits Council
Benefits Byte

2014-094

October 6, 2014

The Benefits Byte is the American Benefits Council’s regular e-mail and online newsletter for members only, providing timely reports on legislative, regulatory and judicial developments, along with updates on the Council’s activities in support of employer-sponsored benefit plans.

The Benefits Byte is published by the American Benefits Council, based on staff reports and edited by Jason Hammersla, Council director of communications. Contact information for Council staff related to specific topics can be found at the end of each story.

Click here to read past issues on the Benefits Byte Archive page.

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IRS Posts Updated Draft Forms for Compliance with PPACA Reporting Requirements

On October 1 and 2, the Internal Revenue Service re-issued a series of proposed tax forms to be used by applicable large employers and insurers for reporting information regarding health care coverage and “minimum essential coverage” as required under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  The updated drafts are largely unchanged aside from some minor formatting changes.

The forms are to be used to fulfill the requirements specified in final regulations implementing the reporting of minimum essential coverage (MEC) under Section 6055 of the Internal Revenue Code) and the reporting of health insurance coverage under Section 6056 of the Internal Revenue Code. These reporting requirements were delayed for 2014 under previously issued Notice 2013-45 transition relief and will not be effective until 2015, making the first required reporting due in early 2016 (though the IRS is encouraging voluntary reporting for coverage in 2014).

  • Form 1095-A, used to report information to the IRS about family members who enroll in a qualified health plan through the Marketplace, was re-issued without any changes.
  • Form 1095-B, used to comply with Section 6055, has been updated with formatting changes to the boxes in Parts I and II.
  • Form 1095-C, used to report the terms and conditions of the health care coverage provided to the employer's full-time employees during the year, was re-issued without any changes.
  • Form 1094-C, used to transmit Form 1095-C,  was re-issued without any changes.

The IRS is accepting comments on the draft forms which are expected be finalized later this year. Comments may be submitted on the Comment on Tax Forms and Publications page on IRS.gov. Although no comment deadline is identified, the Council intends to submit comments in early November. To provide input for possible Council comments on the draft forms, or for more information, contact Kathryn Wilber, senior counsel, health policy, at (202) 289-6700.



Council Joins Group Letter to Congress Celebrating 40 Years of Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans under ERISA

In a September 30 letter to members of Congress on the key committees with jurisdiction over retirement policy, a group of 23 employer, benefits and financial services trade associations – including the American Benefits Council – celebrated the 40th anniversary of ERISA, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.

ERISA, the landmark law governing employee benefit plans, was signed into law by President Gerald Ford. In a September 3 Benefits Byte story, we described some of the Council’s outreach to the media on ERISA’s 40th anniversary. In addition, Council President James A. Klein was invited to pen an essay for Bloomberg BNA on September 9 on ERISA’s legacy.

The September 30 letter describes how “the employer–provided retirement system has been overwhelmingly successful in providing retirement income,” encouraging Congress
to maintain the flexibility that allows employers to provide benefits tailored to their workforce.” Attached to the letter is a list of 40 facts and figures about ERISA and the private employer-provided system.

The Council’s new public policy strategic plan, A 2020 Vision: Flexibility and the Future of Employee Benefits, notes that ERISA’s 40th anniversary presents all stakeholders – employers, employees and the government – with an opportunity to consider improvements to the employer-sponsored benefits system. “Most of the central elements of the law remain relevant – indeed, essential – to the continuation of the employer-sponsored benefits system. However, the nature of the employer/employee relationship has evolved in significant ways,” the plan noted.

For more information on the Council’s outreach with regard to ERISA and retirement plans, contact Lynn Dudley, senior vice president, global retirement and compensation policy, at (202) 289-6700.



Department of Labor Seeks Volunteers for Database Project

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is seeking experts to volunteer to assist with its Occupational Information Network (O*NET), an employment resource for employers, workers, students, veterans and others. The Council has been asked to help with this important effort.

O*Net and related links provide employers and individuals with updated occupational information provided by incumbents across the nation. Teachers and students can access information about the knowledge, skills and abilities required for occupations as well tools to link interests to occupations. O*NET also provides information to help veterans transition to the civilian workforce.

O*NET is currently updating its data on the occupations of Compensation & Benefits Managers and Compensation, Benefits, & Job Analysis Specialists. Volunteers will be asked to complete a series of questionnaires and return them to O*NET representatives by mail or submit online. Experts are those who have at least 5 years of experience in their occupation and includes those who are now supervising, training, or teaching (5 years minimum) if they have at least one year of practice within their career.

If you or your employees are experts in either of the occupations and would like to assist the O*NET program with this update, please send your/their name, mailing address, and a daytime telephone number to Traci Davis of the O*NET Operations Center at Research Triangle Institute, the non-profit research company that collects data for the O*NET program, and she will respond with further information. Her email address is tdavis@onet.rti.org.



The American Benefits Council is the national trade association for companies concerned about federal legislation and regulations affecting all aspects of the employee benefits system. The Council's members represent the entire spectrum of the private employee benefits community and either sponsor directly or administer retirement and health plans covering more than 100 million Americans.

Notice: the information contained herein is general in nature. It is not, and should not be construed as, accounting, consulting, legal or tax advice or opinion provided by the American Benefits Council or any of its employees. As required by the IRS, we inform you that any information contained herein was not intended or written to be used or referred to, and cannot be used or referred to (i) for the purpose of avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein (and any attachment).