Understanding the detailed requirements of the health care reform law, and the potential penalties of noncompliance presents, challenges to accountants who are trying to advise their business clients about the Affordable Care Act.

A new survey by Thomson Reuters of more than 130 U.S. accounting firms found that 24 percent of the respondents said their business clients are not fully aware of their potential exposure to penalties under aspects of the law that take effect next year.

The top challenge cited by the survey respondents was assessing the impact of the Affordable Care Act’s employer-shared responsibility requirements, such as determining their status as a large or small employer, assessing the affordability and minimum value of the coverage they must provide, and estimating the possible penalties. Other big challenges included understanding the nondiscrimination requirements for employer-provided health insurance plans, and calculating premium assistance and cost-sharing reduction subsidies to allow individuals to see the subsidy they would receive based on their income level and family size.

“The 20,000 pages of legislation outlines new obligations for employer-provided health plans,” said Jim Reeves, vice president of medium and large CPA firm markets at Thomson Reuters, in a statement. “In our survey of CPAs, more than 70 percent said their clients are counting on their guidance on these issues. This creates a significant opportunity for firms that develop expertise to help clients unravel the complex legislation and implement the new requirements.”

The survey results are available in a Thomson Reuters special report that can be downloaded at http://yourcheckpoint.thomsonreuters.com/healthcarereform/. The document includes a timeline summarizing the new tax provisions in the law, along with analysis from the Thomson Reuters Checkpoint research service to help practitioners begin planning with their business clients for health care reform.

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