Affordable Care Act Tax Provisions
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.
Health Insurance Premium Tax Credit
Starting in 2014, individuals and families can take a new premium tax credit to help them afford health insurance coverage purchased through an Affordable Insurance Exchange. Exchanges will operate in every state and the District of Columbia. The premium tax credit is refundable so taxpayers who have little or no income tax liability can still benefit. The credit also can be paid in advance to a taxpayer’s insurance company to help cover the cost of premiums. On Aug.12, 2011, the IRS issued proposed regulations that describe who will be eligible to receive the premium tax credit and how to compute the credit. The proposed regulations also describe how to reconcile any advance credit payments for health benefits purchased through an Exchange with the final credit amount. The proposed regulations provide numerous examples, solicit written comments and provide a notice of public hearing. Comments must be submitted by Oct. 31, 2011.
The portion of the law that will allow eligible individuals to use tax credits to purchase health coverage through an Exchange is not effective until 2014.
Exchanges will offer individuals a choice of health plans that meet certain benefit and cost standards. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) administers the requirements for the Exchanges and the health plans they offer..
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.
Excise Tax on Indoor Tanning Services — First Quarterly Payment Was Due Nov. 1, 2010
A 10-percent excise tax on indoor UV tanning services went into effect on July 1, 2010. The first payment of the tax was due Monday, Nov. 1. Payments are made along with Form 720, Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return. The tax doesn't apply to phototherapy services performed by a licensed medical professional on his or her premises. There's also an exception for certain physical fitness facilities that offer tanning as an incidental service to members without a separately identifiable fee. For more information on the tax and how it will be administered, see the Indoor Tanning Services Tax Center.
Employer-Provided Health Coverage — Not Taxable; Reporting is Voluntary for All Employers for 2011 and Small Employers for 2012
Starting in tax year 2011, the Affordable Care Act requires employers to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan. To give employers more time to update their payroll systems, Notice 2010-69, issued last fall, made this requirement optional for all employers in 2011. IRS Notice 2011-28 provided further relief for smaller employers filing fewer than 250 W-2 forms by making the reporting requirement optional for them at least for 2012 and continuing this optional treatment for smaller employers until further guidance is issued. Notice 2011-28 also includes information on how to report, what coverage to include and how to determine the cost of the coverage.
The 2011 Form W-2 is available for viewing on IRS.gov. This is the W-2 that most employees will receive in early 2012. The 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.
For more information, see the 2011 Form W-2, IR-2011-31, Notice 2010-69, Notice 2011-28 and our IRS YouTube video and frequently asked questions.
The Affordable Care Act raises the maximum adoption credit to $13,170 per child, up from $12,150 in 2009. It also makes the credit refundable, meaning that eligible taxpayers can get it even if they owe no tax for that year. In general, the credit is based on the reasonable and necessary expenses related to a legal adoption, including adoption fees, court costs, attorney’s fees and travel expenses. Income limits and other special rules apply. In addition to filling out Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses (see instructions), eligible taxpayers must include with their 2010 tax returns one or more adoption-related documents to avoid slowing down a refund.
For other information, see our news release, tax tip, questions and answers, flyer, Notice 2010-66, Revenue Procedure 2010-31 and Revenue Procedure 2010-35.
Medicare Shared Savings Program
The Affordable Care Act establishes a Medicare shared savings program (MSSP) which encourages Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) to facilitate cooperation among providers to improve the quality of care provided to Medicare beneficiaries and reduce unnecessary costs. More information can be found in Notice 2011-20, which solicits written comments regarding what additional guidance, if any, is needed for tax-exempt organizations participating in the MSSP through an ACO. This guidance also addresses the participation of tax-exempt organizations in non-MSSP activities through ACOs. Comments must be submitted by May 31, 2011. Additional information on the MSSP is available on the Department of Health and Human Services website.
Qualified Therapeutic Discovery Project Program
This program was designed to provide tax credits and grants to small firms that show significant potential to produce new and cost-saving therapies, support U.S. jobs and increase U.S. competitiveness. Applicants were required to have their research projects certified as eligible for the credit or grant. IRS guidance describes the application process.
Submission of certification applications began June 21, 2010, and applications had to be postmarked no later than July 21, 2010, to be considered for the program. Applications that were postmarked by July 21, 2010, were reviewed by both the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the IRS. All applicants were notified by letter dated October 29, 2010, advising whether or not the application for certification was approved. For those applications that were approved, the letter also provided the amount of the grant to be awarded or the tax credit the applicant was eligible to take.
The IRS published the names of the applicants whose projects were approved as required by law. Listings of results are available by state.
Learn more by reading the IRS news release, the news release issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the page on the HHS website and our questions and answers.
Group Health Plan Requirements
The Affordable Care Act establishes a number of new requirements for group health plans. Interim guidance on changes to the nondiscrimination requirements for group health plans can be found in Notice 2011-1, which provides that employers will not be subject to penalties until after additional guidance is issued. Other information on requirements is available on the websites of the Departments of Health and Human Services and Labor and in additional guidance.
Tax-Exempt 501(c)(29) Qualified Nonprofit Health Insurance Issuers
The Affordable Care Act requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan program (CO-OP program). It also provides for tax exemption under section 501(c)(29) for recipients of CO-OP grants and loans that meet additional requirements. IRS Notice 2011-23 outlines the requirements for tax exemption under under section 501(c)(29) and solicits written comments regarding these requirements as well as the application process. Comments must be submitted by May 27, 2011.
An overview of the CO-OP program is available on the Department of Health and Human Services website.
Medicare Part D Coverage Gap “donut hole” Rebate
The Affordable Care Act provides a one-time $250 rebate in 2010 to assist Medicare Part D recipients who have reached their Medicare drug plan’s coverage gap. This payment is not taxable. This payment is not made by the IRS. More information can be found at www.medicare.gov.
Additional Requirements for Tax-Exempt Hospitals
The Affordable Care Act adds requirements in the Internal Revenue Code that tax-exempt hospitals must meet to maintain their tax-exempt status. IRS Notice 2010-39 and Notice 2011-52 described the new requirements and solicited public comments. Due to changes to IRS forms and systems to reflect the additional requirements for charitable hospitals, the start of the 2010 filing season for hospital organizations is delayed. Tax-exempt organizations that are required to file Form 990, Schedule H (Hospitals), may not file their 2010 Forms 990 before July 1, 2011. Furthermore, IRS Announcement 2011-37 advises hospital organizations that Part V, Section B of Schedule H is optional for the 2010 tax year. The 2010 Form 990 and Schedule H include new questions relating to the new requirements that are in effect for tax years beginning after March 23, 2010, addressing the financial assistance, emergency medical care, billing and collection policies and charges for medical care.
Annual Fee on Branded Prescription Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Importers
The Affordable Care Act created an annual fee payable beginning in 2011 by certain manufacturers and importers of brand name pharmaceuticals. On Aug. 15, 2011, the IRS issued temporary regulations and a notice of proposed rulemaking on the branded prescription drug fee. The temporary regulations describe the rules related to the fee, including how it is computed and how it is paid. The notice of proposed rulemaking solicits comments regarding these rules.
For additional information and guidance previously issued, see Notice 2010-71, Notice 2011-9, Revenue Procedure 2011-24 and Notice 2011-46.
Modification of Section 833 Treatment of Certain Health Organizations
The Affordable Care Act amended section 833 of the Code, which provides special rules for the taxation of Blue Cross and Blue Shield organizations and certain other organizations that provide health insurance. IRS Notice 2010-79 provides transitional relief and interim guidance on the computation of an organization’s taxpayer’s Medical Loss Ratio for purposes of section 833, the consequences of nonapplication and changes in accounting method. Notice 2011-04 provides additional information and the procedures for qualifying organizations to obtain automatic consent to change its method of accounting for unearned premiums. Notice 2011-51
Limitation on Deduction for Compensation Paid by Certain Health Insurance Providers
The Affordable Care Act amended section 162(m) of the Code to limit the compensation deduction available to certain health insurance providers. The amendment goes into effect for taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2012, but may affect deferred compensation attributable to services performed in a taxable year beginning after Dec. 31, 2009. Initial guidance on the application of this provision can be found in Notice 2011-2, which also solicits comments on the application of the amended provision.
Employer Shared Responsibility Payment
Starting in 2014, certain employers must offer health coverage to their full-time employees or a shared responsibility payment may apply. More information and a request for comments on approaches to determining who is a full-time employee for purposes of this new provision are in Notice 2011-36. Learn more by reading our news release.
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute
The Affordable Care Act establishes the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and that the institute be funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund. The institute will assist patients, clinicians, purchasers, and policy-makers in making informed health decisions by advancing clinical effectiveness research. The Trust Fund is to be funded in part by fees to be paid by issuers of health insurance policies and sponsors of self-insured health plans. IRS Notice 2011-35 requests comments regarding how the fees to fund the institute should be calculated and paid, including several possible rules and safe harbors.