With the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandate set to go into effect soon, requiring employers to provide health insurance to full-time employees, small businesses are preparing to feel the hurt. Large businesses are subject to the new requirements beginning in just several months. Small companies with more than 49 employees will need to comply by 2016.
Much confusion has surrounded the ACA since its inception. Here are two places in which small business owners need to read the fine print:
- Very small businesses are exempt: According to Forbes magazine, companies with 49 full-time workers or fewer will not have to provide health coverage to staff members. However, if you own three companies, each with 25 employees, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may choose to consider them all one entity, with 75 workers. Thus, you could unexpectedly find yourself subject to the mandate.
- You don’t have to cover part-time employees: It is well-known that employers don’t have to cover part-time workers — those who regularly work less than 30 hours a week. However, Forbes contributor John Goodman warns that the IRS can look at the previous 12 months of an employee’s time at your company when determining their status. In other words, if you cut a full-time employee to part-time 11 months earlier, you could still be on the hook for the penalty fine.
Crain’s Detroit Business Journal also notes that most small businesses don’t have human resources departments to handle all of the inevitable paperwork associated with the ACA. It’s important to plan ahead so that you don’t find yourself hit with thousands of dollars in fines because you couldn’t process files in time.
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