On December 5, the IRS closed production of the Affordable Care Act’s Information Returns (AIRs) portal to prepare for
The agency says that the AIRs portal will reopen for production tomorrow, January 14, and assuming everything goes according to plan, employers will be able to begin filing their 2021 ACA returns.
When the AIRs system status is down, Applicable Large Employers (ALEs)cannot electronically submit their ACA Forms 1094-C and 1095-C for respective reporting years.
While this particular downtime was planned for, sometimes it happens without notice. And when it does, you could end up missing the electronic filing deadline to submit ACA information to the IRS.
To help you prepare for expected and unexpected AIRs portal downtime, we recommend taking the following steps to prevent a late electronic filing submission.
Prepare your fillings ahead of time
Proactively preparing your ACA filings will save you time in the long run. Give yourself ample time to review, check, and check again your ACA filings before submitting them to the IRS. Once you’ve reviewed your filings, submit them to the IRS as soon as possible in advance of the due date. This will also allow your team to resolve any technical issues that may arise on your end.
For the 2021 tax year, the electronic ACA filing deadline is March 31, 2022.
Implement a monthly ACA compliance process
Annual ACA reporting is the culmination of monthly ACA compliance tracking. Reporting will go a lot smoother if you have a monthly ACA compliance process in place. Important employee census, benefits, and payroll data will be much easier to access if ACA Compliance is conducted on a monthly basis. New to ACA compliance? Download the ACA Essential Guide for Employers below to learn best practices for implementing a strong program that meets state and federal requirements.
Consider Paper Filing
It’s not the most efficient method for submitting ACA information to the IRS, but it’s a viable solution for organizations with less than 250 filings. If you prepare your filings ahead of time, this method could prove useful in the event of unannounced AIRs portal downtime. This option may also better suit smaller organizations that aren’t as tech-savvy.
The paper filing deadline for the 2021 tax year is February 28, 2022.
Consult an Expert in ACA Compliance
Electronically transmitting your ACA filings to the IRS is not as simple as it sounds. If you decide to transmit the information leveraging internal resources, you will need to develop a robust system for communicating the information to the tax agency.
Best practices include partnering with an expert in ACA compliance, like Trusaic, to handle this for you. With our established and secure system with the AIRs portal, you can feel confident about the accuracy and timeliness of your ACA annual submissions. In addition, we can help you complete your fillings ahead of time, implement a monthly ACA compliance process, and prepare the filings for a paper submission should extenuating circumstances arise.
With the AIRs portal going down unexpectedly and for scheduled maintenance, employers need to be sure they are giving themselves a buffer for meeting the filing deadline. Failing to meet the mandated ACA filing deadline can result in penalties under IRC 6721/6722. The IRS is issuing penalties for filing late and failing to file at all through a Letter 972CG.
As a reminder, ACA information must be filed with the IRS annually as requirements under the healthcare law’s Employer Mandate.
Under the ACA’s Employer Mandate, ALEs, or employers with 50 or more full-time employees and full-time equivalent employees must:
- Offer Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) to at least 95% of their full-time employees (and their dependents) whereby such coverage meets Minimum Value (MV); and
- Ensure that the coverage for the full-time employee is affordable based on one of the IRS-approved methods for calculating affordability.
If you need help filing with the IRS through the AIRs portal, contact us to learn about our comprehensive, full-service solution, ACA Complete. If you’re unsure of the accuracy of your ACA filings, get your ACA Vitals to see how at risk your organization is of IRS penalty risk.
For information on ACA penalty amounts, affordability percentages, important filing deadlines, steps for responding to penalty notices, and best practices for minimizing IRS penalty risk, download the ACA 101 Toolkit.