On Monday, February 10, the IRS announced that it is delaying the shared-responsibility requirement under Sec. 4980H of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) for employers who have 50 to 99 full-time equivalent employees in 2014. These employers will now have until 2016 to offer health care coverage to their employees. However, these employers will still be required to report on their workers and health care coverage in 2015. The penalty had already been postponed last summer (its original effective date was 2014).
To be eligible for the delay, employers must not reduce their workforce or hours of service in order to qualify and they must maintain their previously offered health coverage. This change was part of final regulations issued Monday by the IRS that also made a number of improvements in response to the proposed regulations issued back in 2012.
For instance, the final regulations ensure that volunteers such as firefighters and emergency responders do not count as full-time employees. Also, for employers with 100 or more full-time equivalent employees, the regulations phase in the percentage of full-time workers to whom such employers need to offer minimum essential coverage. The percentage is 70% in 2015 and 95% in 2016 and beyond. Employers with 100 or more full-time equivalent employees that do not meet these percentages will be required make an employer shared-responsibility payment for 2015. The final regulations also contain transition guidance for noncalendar-year plans. There was no change for small businesses with fewer than 40 employees, which is about 96% of all employers; they are still not required to provide coverage or fill out any forms under the Affordable Care Act.