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2011 Affordable Care Act Tax Provisions

Dec 20, 2010

The Affordable Care Act was enacted on March 23, 2010. It contains some tax provisions that take effect this year and more that will be implemented during the next several years. The following is a list of provisions now in effect; additional information will be added to this page as it becomes available.

Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

This new credit helps small businesses and small tax-exempt organizations afford the cost of covering their employees and is specifically targeted for those with low- and moderate-income workers. The credit is designed to encourage small employers to offer health insurance coverage for the first time or maintain coverage they already have. In general, the credit is available to small employers that pay at least half the cost of single coverage for their employees. Learn more by browsing our page on the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit for Small Employers.

Changes to Flexible Spending Arrangements

Effective Jan. 1, 2011, the cost of an over-the-counter medicine or drug cannot be reimbursed from Flexible Spending Arrangements or health reimbursement arrangements unless a prescription is obtained. The change does not affect insulin, even if purchased without a prescription, or other health care expenses such as medical devices, eye glasses, contact lenses, co-pays and deductibles. The new standard applies only to purchases made on or after Jan. 1, 2011, so claims for medicines or drugs purchased without a prescription in 2010 can still be reimbursed in 2011, if allowed by the employer’s plan. A similar rule goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2011 for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and Archer Medical Savings Accounts (Archer MSAs). Employers and employees should take these changes into account as they make health benefit decisions for 2011.

For more information, see news release IR-2010-95, Notice 2010-59, Revenue Ruling 2010-23 and our questions and answers.

FSA and HRA participants can continue using debit cards to buy prescribed over-the-counter medicines, if requirements are met. For more information, see news release IR-2010-128 and Notice 2011-5.

IRS partners can spread the word to their clients with the help of a Health Plan Changes flyer and a drop-in article, Does your Healthcare Program need a checkup?

Health Coverage for Older Children

Health coverage for an employee's children under 27 years of age is now generally tax-free to the employee. This expanded health care tax benefit applies to various work place and retiree health plans. These changes immediately allow employers with cafeteria plans –– plans that allow employees to choose from a menu of tax-free benefit options and cash or taxable benefits –– to permit employees to begin making pre-tax contributions to pay for this expanded benefit. This also applies to self-employed individuals who qualify for the self-employed health insurance deduction on their federal income tax return. Learn more by reading our news release or this notice.

Employer-Provided Health Coverage — Not Taxable; Reporting Requirement Optional in 2011

Starting in tax year 2011, the Affordable Care Act requires employers to report the value of the health insurance coverage they provide employees on each employee's annual Form W-2. However, to provide employers the time they need to make changes to their payroll systems or procedures in preparation for compliance with this requirement, the IRS will defer the reporting requirement for 2011, making that reporting by employers optional in 2011.

The revised Form W-2 for 2011 is now available in draft for viewing. This is the W-2 that most employees will receive in early 2012. The draft form includes the codes that employers may use to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan.

This reporting is for informational purposes only, to show employees the value of their health care benefits so they can be more informed consumers. The amount reported does not affect tax liability, as the value of the employer contribution to health coverage continues to be excludible from an employee's income, and it is not taxable.

 

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