It’s now 2015 and several new parts of the Affordable Care Act have been enacted into law. In order to help you and your small business be as prepared as possible for the coming year, here are a few basics about the ACA in 2015:
The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP)
This online healthcare marketplace, hosted by state exchange websites and healthcare.gov, is now live and available exclusively to small businesses with 50 or fewer FTEs. Small business owners can find tons of information about SHOP, available programs, ranges and types of coverage, and get answers to almost all of their ACA related questions by visiting these websites. Additionally, employers who use the SHOP marketplace to provide insurance to their FTEs may qualify for tax breaks.
It is important to note that sole-proprietors are classified as individuals by the ACA and are not eligible to use the SHOP marketplace. For such individuals, open enrollment ended the 15th of February. If they need coverage this year, they should purchase insurance from some other provider.
Understand the Obligations that Apply to Your Business
Here’s a rundown of healthcare obligations small businesses need to be aware of and prepare for in the coming year:
· Some small businesses will need to report healthcare expenses in individual employee W-2 forms. These should be reported in Box 12 under the code DD.
· Your business must report any self-insured health coverage it provides to employees to the IRS. Though this has been optional in previous years, it is mandatory as of 2015. This information must now be provided to employees who will be required to include it on their W-2.
Also, it’s best to plan ahead for the changes and new obligations coming in the future for your business as the ACA continues to be implemented all the way up until 2018. There are a few great resources on what’s to come:
· The Small Business Administration’s website is a valuable resource of obligations and key components of the ACA for small business.
· The National Federation of Independent Business has a timeline of changes to come with information employers need to know to avoid non-compliance and other issues highlighted
Know where to go when you need information
As a small business owner, it’s important to have resources to turn to when you do have questions about SHOP, the ACA, and other healthcare reform issues throughout the year. Your qualified business lawyer and company accountant should remain valuable resources when you need reliable information.
Additionally, keep the Department of Labor’s website in mind as it is a valuable resource of information on the ACA for small businesses. The sites FAQ alone will likely answer many of the most common questions business owners have about the ACA in 2015. Issues like compliance, exemptions, individual policies, and tax credits for small business are all of covered and should be examined thoroughly.
Here’s a few fast facts about the ACA as it pertains to small businesses in 2015 to get you started:
· Small businesses with fewer than 25 FTEs can earn tax credit for premiums they pay for their FTEs insurance.
· To be eligible for tax breaks, you must purchase insurance through SHOP.
· Tax-exempt and small businesses with less than 10 FTEs are each subject to different tax break rates as well.
· To claim a healthcare tax credit for your small business, you must fill out IRS From #8941.
The ACA has and continues to evolve. This means that the rules and regulations enacted in 2015 may not always stay the same. It’s important to keep up with the most current information on healthcare reform as it becomes available.
Being proactive, reading what you can, and consulting trustworthy resources like the websites mentioned above and your qualified business accountant or lawyer will remain key to ensuring your small business maintains continual compliance with the ACA.
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