At a hearing Monday before the IRS, a number of employer groups urged the agency to alleviate the burdens and costs to employers of health care coverage reporting under the Affordable Care Act by allowing for greater flexibility and simplification in the reporting requirements.

New Internal Revenue Code Sections 6055 and 6056 require the reporting of health insurance coverage of employees under the Affordable Care Act.

Section 6055 requires that information be furnished to the IRS on each full-time employee to whom was provided minimum essential health insurance coverage during the year. Section 6056 requires reporting by applicable large employers of information to the IRS about compliance with the employer shared-responsibility provisions under Section 4980H, and a certification as to whether the employer offers to its full-time employees the opportunity to enroll in minimum essential coverage under an eligible employer-sponsored plan, and also requires statements to be furnished to individuals with respect to whom information is reported.

“Of great interest to the Council’s members is the possibility of combined reporting,” stated Seth Perretta, a partner at Crowell & Moring LLP, on behalf of the American Benefits Council. “The ability for employers to use a single, combined return and statement for purposes of Code Sections 6055 and 6056 reporting should help reduce some of the burdens on employers. Moreover, combined reporting should reduce the possibility for the issuance of inconsistent returns and lessen p0otential participant confusion.”

In addition, he stated, the Council’s members “are also very supportive of future rulemaking that would allow for the meaningful use of the Form W-2 as an option for employers in satisfying their Code Section 6056 reporting obligations.”

While an IRS official expressed concern that the expansion of Form W-2 might be confusing for some, Perretta’s statement acknowledged, “Although we understand the Form W-2 is an annual statement and, as such, has not historically provided for the transmittal of information on a monthly basis, we believe the Department [Treasury], in connection with other federal agencies, might find it worthwhile to increase the utility of the Form W-2 for purposes of Code Section 6056 reporting.”