IRS Publishes Guidance on Substitute Forms for Employer Reporting
This week, the IRS released the 2018 version of Publication 5223, General Rules and Specifications for Affordable Care Act Substitute Forms 1095-A, 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C and 1095-C. As background, applicable large employers (those subject to the employer mandate) and employers that sponsor self-insured plans are subject to certain informational reporting requirements under IRC Sections 6055 and 6056. Under those sections, those employers must file Forms 1095-B and 1095-C (as applicable) with the IRS and distribute either a copy of the forms or a substitute form to employees or otherwise covered individuals.
Publication 5223 outlines standards for acceptable substitute forms that may be sent to the IRS and also outlines acceptable standards for substitute forms furnished to individuals. The standards are quite rigorous, including specific font size, ink type, paper orientation and weight, and print positions. Importantly, should the employer choose to use substitute forms, these standards must be satisfied in order to avoid employer reporting penalties (also outlined in the publication). The 2018 version of Publication 5223 contains no major changes from previous years but has been updated to reference new dates and forms.
Most employers use the standard Forms 1094/95-B/C to fulfill their reporting obligations, in which case the publication is not applicable. That said, employers that want to use substitute forms should review the publication to ensure any substitute forms they use are consistent with the standards.