Employee Benefits Adviser

This is the Employee Benefits Adviser category of the Broad REach Benefits blog. At Broad Reach Benefits, we focus on employers that have between 30 and 500 benefit eligible employees. We’re employee benefit specialists, not a big box brokerage firm or payroll company with a sales force peddling policies.

Legal Alert- Congress Repeals Unrelated Business Income Tax for Tax-Exempt Entities Offering Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefits

Congress Repeals Unrelated Business Income Tax for Tax-Exempt Entities Offering Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefits

As part of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (the “Act”), Congress repealed Section 512(a)(7) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (the “Code”). This Code section was added as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the “TCJA”) and resulted in an unrelated business income tax (UBIT) liability when a tax-exempt entity provides qualified transportation benefits to employees.  The repeal is effective retroactively to December 22, 2017, the date the TCJA was enacted. Tax-exempt entities who paid an UBIT on transportation benefits in the last two years should be able to obtain a refund.

About UBIT and Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefits 

The UBIT on qualified transportation fringe benefits only affected tax-exempt entities. UBIT generally applies to income that is not related to an entity’s exempt purpose, so it was unclear why Congress targeted expenses related to providing parking or transportation for employees.  Under the TCJA, tax-exempt entities offering qualified transportation fringe benefits to their employees were exposed to a 21% UBIT tax.  The tax applied regardless of whether the employer was providing the benefits or whether employees were paying pre-tax.

Qualified transportation benefits include transit passes, parking, and commuter highway vehicle rides. Notably, the amount of the UBIT was based on the qualified transportation benefit expenditures instead of the entity’s income. As a result, tax-exempt entities were experiencing larger UBIT bills, even though employees may have been paying for the benefits themselves via salary reduction.

What the Repeal Does

 Under the Act, the UBIT for tax-exempt entities who offered qualified transportation fringe benefits is retroactively repealed. This means that tax-exempt entities are no longer subject to UBIT on qualified transportation benefits and […]

By |January 20th, 2020|Compliance, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits Adviser, Employee Communications, Health Care Reform, Human Resources, Medical, Voluntary Benefits|Comments Off on Legal Alert- Congress Repeals Unrelated Business Income Tax for Tax-Exempt Entities Offering Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefits

Congress Passes Spending Bill that Repeals Three Major ACA Taxes, Extends PCORI

Updated December 21 to reflect that the bill has been signed into law.

 On December 20, 2019, the House and Senate, with the final signature from President Trump, passed a bipartisan legislative package of spending bills to avoid a government shutdown.  This package of bills is collectively referred to as the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (the “Act”). The Act includes a permanent repeal of three Affordable Care Act (ACA) taxes: the tax on high-cost health plans (the so-called “Cadillac Tax”), the Health Insurance Tax (HIT tax), and the medical device tax. Overall, the repeal of these ACA taxes may result in at least $300 billion in lost revenue to the government; however, the bill brings relief to employers and consumers, who may have experienced tax payments, increased health premiums and other costs. The repeal of the HIT tax is effective as of January 1, 2021, and the medical device tax is repealed as of January 1, 2020. The Cadillac Tax was already delayed until 2022, and thus will never take effect. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fee has also been extended to 2029 (i.e., it will apply to plan years ending on or before September 30, 2029). 

PCORI Fee Extension

The PCORI fee is now extended to plan years ending on or before September 30, 2029. PCORI fee extensions have been discussed frequently and have been included in previously introduced bills, such as the Protecting Access to Information for Effective and Necessary Treatment and Services Act (PATIENTS Act) that was approved by the House Ways and Means Committee in June 2019. The amount due per life covered under a policy will be adjusted annually, as it has been previously. Insurers of fully insured health […]

By |December 23rd, 2019|Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits Adviser, Employee Communications, Health Care Reform, Human Resources, Legislation, Medical, Wellness|Comments Off on Congress Passes Spending Bill that Repeals Three Major ACA Taxes, Extends PCORI

EEOC’s Status Report in AARP v. EEOC Creates Uncertainty for Wellness Programs

In its March 30 status report to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) v. EEOC, the EEOC stated that “it does not currently have plans to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing incentives for participation in employee wellness programs by a particular date certain, but it also has not ruled out the possibility that it may issue such a Notice in the future.”

Employers continue to face uncertainty as to wellness program incentives subject to the ADA and GINA (i.e., those with medical exams or disability-related inquiries) as the EEOC awaits confirmation of Janet Dhillon as EEOC Chair and considers “a number of policy choices available.” In other words, the EEOC may wait until the Senate confirms outstanding nominations before re-engaging in the rulemaking process, leaving wellness programs open to challenge in 2019 by employees who feel that the incentives (or penalties) are so great that they render the program involuntary.

Background

As background, under the ADA, wellness programs that involve a disability-related inquiry or a medical examination must be “voluntary.” Similar requirements exist under GINA when there are requests for an employee’s family medical history (typically as part of a health risk assessment). For years, the EEOC had declined to provide specific guidance on the level of incentive that may be provided under the ADA, and their informal guidance suggested that any incentive could render a program “involuntary.” In 2016, after years of uncertainty on the issue, the agency released rules on wellness incentives that resemble, but do not mirror, the 30% limit established under U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) regulations applicable to health-contingent employer-sponsored wellness programs.   While the regulations appeared to be […]

By |April 17th, 2018|Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits Adviser, Employee Communications, Retired, U.S. Department of Labor|Comments Off on EEOC’s Status Report in AARP v. EEOC Creates Uncertainty for Wellness Programs

Legal Alert: Senate Republicans Release Updated Discussion Draft of ACA Repeal Bill

An updated version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 was released on July 13th by the U.S. Senate Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky released a healthcare “Discussion Draft” of legislation, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA) on Thursday, June 22, 2017, which is the Senate version of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) “repeal-and-replace” legislation American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last month.  An updated “Discussion Draft” of the BCRA was released on June 26, 2017 with the intention of calling for a vote on the bill before the Fourth of July recess. […]

By |July 17th, 2017|Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits Adviser, Health Care Reform|Comments Off on Legal Alert: Senate Republicans Release Updated Discussion Draft of ACA Repeal Bill

Legal Alert: REMINDER: PCORI Fees Due by July 31, 2017

Employers that sponsor self-insured group health plans, including health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) should keep in mind the upcoming July 31, 2017 deadline for paying fees that fund the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).  As background, the PCORI was established as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to conduct research to evaluate the effectiveness of medical treatments, procedures and strategies that treat, manage, diagnose or prevent illness or injury.  Under the ACA, most employer sponsors and insurers will be required to pay PCORI fees until 2019.

The amount of PCORI fees due by employer sponsors and insurers is based upon the number of covered lives under each “applicable self-insured health plan” and “specified health insurance policy” (as defined by regulations) and the plan or policy year end date.

  • For plan years that ended between January 1, 2016 and September 30, 2016, the fee is $2.17 per covered life and is due by July 31, 2017.
  • For plan years that ended between October 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016, the fee is $2.26 per covered life and is due by July 31, 2017.

For example, a plan year that ran from October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016 will pay a fee of $2.17 per covered life.  Calendar year 2016 plans will pay a fee of $2.26 per covered life.

NOTE: The insurance carrier is responsible for paying the PCORI fee on behalf of a fully insured plan.  The employer is responsible for paying the fee on behalf of a self-insured plan, including an HRA.  In general, health FSAs are not subject to the PCORI fee.

Employers that sponsor self-insured group health plans must report and pay PCORI fees using IRS Form 720, Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return.

Note […]

By |May 31st, 2017|Compliance, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits Adviser, Employee Communications, Health Care Reform|Comments Off on Legal Alert: REMINDER: PCORI Fees Due by July 31, 2017

Legal Alert: House Republicans Pass American Health Care Act; Bill Heads to Senate for Further Consideration

On Thursday, May 4, by a vote of 217 to 213 (with 20 Republicans voting against the bill), the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amended version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which repeals and replaces significant portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

This bill comes several weeks after U.S. House of Representatives’ Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the AHCA […]

By |May 9th, 2017|Compliance, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits Adviser, Employee Communications, Health Care Reform|Comments Off on Legal Alert: House Republicans Pass American Health Care Act; Bill Heads to Senate for Further Consideration

Legal Alert: White House Extends Transition Relief for Non-Compliant Plans through 2018

On February 23, 2017, the White House announced a one-year extension to the transition policy (originally announced November 14, 2013 and extended several times since) for individual and small group health plans that allows issuers to continue policies that do not meet ACA standards. […]

By |February 24th, 2017|Compliance, Employee Benefits Adviser, Health Care Reform|Comments Off on Legal Alert: White House Extends Transition Relief for Non-Compliant Plans through 2018

Legal Alert: IRS to Continue Accepting Tax Returns without Indication of Health Insurance

The IRS has announced that it will continue to process tax filings of individuals whose returns do not indicate whether they have maintained health insurance as required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The announcement is in direct response to the President’s January executive […]

By |February 21st, 2017|Compliance, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits Adviser, Legislation, Medical|Comments Off on Legal Alert: IRS to Continue Accepting Tax Returns without Indication of Health Insurance

One Question Makes a Big Difference: Is your broker simply shopping your medical program, or utilizing actuarial analysis?

The real issue is how do you know if you are over paying for your medical plan? When we hear that companies are not using an actuary we ask another simply question: How do you know you are not overpaying? Where’s the analysis? We’ve yet to hear a convincing explanation. How can you or your broker possibly know, because they aren’t trained or qualified to interpret incurral factors, group specific trend and expected large claims versus actual as an actuary is, so they can’t know if there is an argument to be made. […]

By |August 26th, 2016|Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits Adviser|Comments Off on One Question Makes a Big Difference: Is your broker simply shopping your medical program, or utilizing actuarial analysis?