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Instruction sheets for completing ACA tax forms - a proxy for ACA complexity

Implementing Health Reform: Tax Form Instructions

By Timothy Jost
Health Affairs Blog, August 29, 2014

On August 28, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service re-released the draft forms that will be used by employer, insurers, and exchanges for reporting Affordable Care Act tax information to individuals and to the IRS for 2014 and 2015, as well as the instructions for completing those forms.  The IRS also released in the Federal Register requests for public comments on three of those forms – the 1094-B, the 1094-C, and the 1095-C – under the Paperwork Reduction Act.  This post reports on these forms and instructions and on a guidance released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The tax forms had been published earlier and are described in an earlier post.  The instructions for the forms, however, had not been available and had been eagerly awaited by employers, insurers, exchanges, and tax professionals. Forms 1094-C and 1095-C will be used by large employers with more than 50 full-time or full-time-equivalent employees to determine whether the employer is responsible for penalties under the employer shared responsibility requirements of the ACA.  They will also be used to determine whether employees have received an affordable and adequate offer of coverage, rendering them ineligible for premium tax credits.  Employers are required to provide each full-time employee with a form 1095-C and to file each of these together with a transmittal form 1095-B form with the IRS.

The instructions for the 1094-C and 1095-C are by far the most complex of the instructions released on August 28, filling 13 pages with dense, two column, print.  Most of the complexity derives from the options for complying with the employer mandate and the transition exceptions to that mandate that the administration has created…

Implementing Health Reform: Tax Form Instructions, by Timothy Jost: http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2014/08/29/implementing-health-reform-tax-...

IRS - 2014 Instructions for Forms 1094-C and 1095-C (Draft): http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-dft/i109495c--dft.pdf

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Comment:

By Don McCanne, MD

If you enjoy minutia, click on the links to the full blog post and the draft instructions and read away.

Although today’s message deals with only one minor provision of the Affordable Care Act -  the instructions for tax forms used to report ACA tax information to individuals and to the IRS - the administrative detail required is mind-boggling. Extrapolate that to all aspects of ACA and it becomes obvious that, instead of gaining administrative simplicity, ACA greatly increased administrative complexity - on top of the most administratively complex health financing system in the world. What a waste!

Timothy Jost’s comment from yesterday’s message can be repeated again today: “We are doomed to continue to struggle with this complexity as long as we stubbornly cling to a private health insurance-based health care financing system.”

Single payer.