American Benefits Council
Benefits Byte

2015-107

November 9, 2015

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 Conducting Online Readiness Survey for ACA Information Reporting

The IRS is asking employers, insurance providers, software developers, and transmitters to complete a new online survey to assess readiness for transmitting information returns 1095-C and 1095-B to the IRS as required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA Information Returns (AIRS) Readiness Survey is also available at the IRS website for the AIRS Program. The survey is voluntary and anonymous. The IRS receives only compiled data, which does not allow for the identification of any individual or company.

According to the IRS, information from this survey will assist the IRS with understanding the readiness of various reporting entities to submit the returns, learning what additional information will be helpful to ensure stakeholder readiness, and determining how best to communicate additional information to stakeholders. Survey respondents can complete the survey more than once if they make repeat visits to the site and different individuals within the same organization may complete the survey. The survey consists of about a dozen short questions that are specifically tailored to whether an employer, insurer, transmitter or software developer is completing the survey. The survey will be open through early 2016. The IRS intends to modify the questions as needed to more accurately collect data as the filing season progresses.

The ACA information reporting requirements are effective for tax year 2015. Forms 1095-C must be furnished to full-time employees by February 1, 2016. Forms 1095-C and 1095-B are required to be filed with the IRS by February 29, 2016. Instructions for Forms 1094-C and 1095-C provide information for obtaining 30 day extensions for filing the returns with the IRS and furnishing statements to employees. According to recent informal statements, the IRS anticipates a potential increase in requests for a 30-day extension for providing statements to employees and is considering guidance that would make the process for requesting an extension easier for 2015.

The Council has been working with the IRS and Treasury Department to address compliance challenges posed by the new information reporting requirements. For more information, contact Kathryn Wilber, senior counsel, health policy, at (202) 289-6700.



American Benefits Council IN THE NEWS

The recent enactment of the Bipartisan Budget Act (H.R. 1314), which included a number of federal revenue-raising provisions including defined benefit plan insurance rate hikes, generated significant outcry from the plan sponsor community, led by the American Benefits Council.

CFO Magazine published an opinion piece on October 29, Eleventh-Hour Budget Deal Hikes Pension Premiums, Again, in which the author cited the American Benefits Council as the authoritative source for analysis on the issue. The piece drew heavily from the Council’s October 28 news release and an independent research report commissioned by the Council in 2014, concluding that “[i]t’s at least ironic — some stronger words come to mind — that the same Congress and presidential administration that have taken numerous steps aimed at improving retirement savings now support an action that would only hasten the trend of pension plan sponsors freezing or closing their plans.”

The Council was also quoted prominently in similar stories published by Bloomberg BNA [subscription required], Business Insurance and Pensions and Investments.

Meanwhile, Council staff continue to serve as key spokespeople for the Alliance to Fight the 40, a diverse coalition of public and private sector employers and labor unions united to advocate for repeal of the 40 percent tax on employer-sponsored health plans, as added by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

As we reported in the October 15 Benefits Byte, Council President James Klein authored an op-ed article describing the negative impact of the 40 percent tax with Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) General President Terry O’Sullivan that appeared in the “Beltway Insiders” section of RollCall.com.

It was also widely reported on November 5 that the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS-CAN) has officially joined the Alliance. As Klein said in an Alliance news release, “We’re thrilled to welcome ACS CAN to the Alliance. This continues the momentum to repeal the tax that threatens health coverage for over175 million Americans.”

For more information on the Council’s public relations activities, please contact Jason Hammersla, senior director, communications, at (202) 289-6700.



Council Staff Participate in ‘Run for Retirement’

Several American Benefits Council staff members, family and friends participated in the first 4.01K Race for Retirement on November 7 in Washington, D.C., a 4.01-kilometer race to raise awareness of the need to save early and often for retirement.

The event was sponsored by Prudential. Over 15,695 people participated, all of whom signed a pledge to save “one percent more” for their retirement. The event also included interactive exhibits describing how behavioral economics can be used to drive savings behavior.



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).