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IRS Releases Updated Publications 5164 and 5165 For Electronic Filing of Forms 1094/1095

Publication 5164 (Test Package for Electronic Filers of Affordable Care Act (ACA) Information Returns (AIR) (Tax Year 2015) (Nov. 2015); Publication 5165 (Publication 5165, Guide for Electronically Filing Affordable Care Act (ACA) Information Returns for Software Developers and Transmitters (Processing Year 2016) (Nov. 2015)

Publication 5164

Publication 5165

Visit the Health Care Reform Community on Checkpoint to join the discussion on this development (for Checkpoint subscribers to EBIA’s Health Care Reform manual).

Anticipating the March 31, 2016 deadline for the first mandatory filings of electronic Forms 1094/1095 (for the 2015 tax year/2016 processing year), the IRS has updated two publications related to the ACA Information Returns (AIR) system, building on the “early look” versions released earlier this year (see our article):

  • Publication 5165. Key areas covered by this electronic filing guide include—— Transmitter Control Code (TCC) Application. Among other refinements, the updated publication adds a table explaining the different roles requiring a TCC, which role should be entered on the application, and when a single entity (such as a software developer) may need more than one TCC. It also specifies that an employer using a third party to transmit returns, rather than transmitting returns itself, does not need a TCC.— XML Schemas. Forms must be transmitted using the XML schema file structure described in the publication. [EBIA Comment: XML schemas and business rules are updated on a separate webpage. Detailed instructions on preparing submissions are provided in the AIR Submission Composition and Reference Guide, which has also been updated.]— Transmission Process. Transmissions undergo security scanning and other checks at the IRS portal and, if any of these checks fail, a “TPE” error is returned to the transmitter. The publication includes additional TPE codes. If all validations pass at the IRS portal, the transmission enters the AIR system, which will perform additional validations and generate a Receipt ID to the transmitter.— Corrections. Additional information is provided on the process for making corrections and transmitting them to the IRS. The publication also explains the process for replacing rejected transmissions.— Filing Extensions. The publication explains that automatic 30-day extensions are obtained by filing Form 8809 (on paper by mail or fax, or electronically using the FIRE system). Under certain hardship conditions, an additional 30-day extension may be requested electronically or on paper—but the explanation for the delay must be documented on paper and signed by an authorized person (see our article). [EBIA Comment: An extension of the deadline to file with the IRS does not affect the February 1, 2016 deadline to furnish Forms 1095 to individuals—a separate, detailed process (summarized in the publication) applies. Filers may also request a hardship waiver from the electronic filing requirement under yet another process described in the publication. Filers should carefully note the applicable deadlines, which differ for each type of relief.]
  • Publication 5164. Before submitting live data through the AIR system, users must pass tests under the ACA Assurance Testing System (AATS). This publication describes the “more robust” AATS testing environment effective in January 2016. (Until then, the prior version of the publication continues to apply. The IRS encourages, but does not require, re-taking tests passed in the pre-2016 environment.) The more robust environment will validate business rules, provide improved error messages, and include correction scenarios, but will not use character-by-character comparisons to evaluate submissions. It also can be used to conduct additional testing beyond the required scenarios. [EBIA Comment: The required scenarios are provided on a separate webpage, which now includes an answer key. In some cases, the answers on the answer key differ from the format requirements for paper filings. Those submitting paper forms to the IRS should be sure to follow the Form 1094/1095 instructions (see our article) rather than the guidelines in these publications.]

EBIA Comment: These publications highlight the technical complexity of electronic filing under the AIR system. Mandatory electronic filers (generally, those required to file at least 250 Forms 1095-B or 1095-C) will need to familiarize themselves with the publications quickly and continue to monitor the IRS’s AIR Program webpage for the latest information. All filers should be gearing up now to furnish statements to individuals by the fast-approaching February 1, 2016 deadline. For more information, see EBIA’s Form 1094/1095 Workbook at Sections IV.B (“Forms 1094-B and 1095-B”), IX (“Furnishing Employee Statements”), and X (“Filing With IRS”). See also EBIA’s Health Care Reform manual at Sections XXXVI.C (“Information Reporting of Minimum Essential Coverage (Insurers and Employers That Self-Insure)”) and XXXVI.D (“Information Reporting of Employer-Sponsored Coverage (Applicable Large Employers)”).

Contributing Editors: EBIA Staff.

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