The Internal Revenue Service has released a set of long-delayed draft instructions for the forms that companies need to file to comply with the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

The draft instructions are available for Form 1095-A, “Health Insurance Marketplace Statement,” Forms 1094-B and 1095-B, “Transmittal of Health Coverage Information Returns” and “Health Coverage,” and Forms 1094-C and 1095-C, “Transmittal of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Returns” and Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage.”

The IRS also released a notice and request for comments on the draft instructions.

Draft versions of the forms were made available last month, but without the instructions (see IRS Releases Draft Forms for Obamacare).

While the forms and instructions have been long-awaited by employers, not all lawmakers in Congress were pleased to see them arrive. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., a member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, issued a statement Thursday in response to the appearance of the IRS’s draft instructions for reporting requirements under the employer mandate.

“After two unilateral delays to Obamacare’s employer mandate, the Obama Administration has now waited until the eleventh hour to issue these draft forms and guidance, offering employers little time to understand how to complete their 2013 taxes under this law,” said Black.  “The complications stemming from the tax forms simply underscore existing challenges for consumers with the ACA and the health care subsidies.”

“Moreover, this guidance confirms that starting next year, employers, for the first time ever, will be forced by the government to report their employees’ personally identifying information every month—including Social Security numbers and date of birth—which will be stored by the IRS,” Black added. “This is deeply troubling given the agency’s recent failures in protecting taxpayer information. For this reason I am working on legislation to protect employees’ privacy and rein in these intrusive reporting requirements.”

In contrast, the National Retail Federation, a trade association of retailers across the country, welcomed the draft instructions.

“The additional guidance from the administration is welcomed by the employer community and retail industry,” said NRF vice president and employee benefits policy counsel Neil Trautwein in a statement Thursday. “Now that we have the regulations, the forms and the instructions, companies can continue their compliance activities. While the instructions were delayed, they remain helpful. The Affordable Care Act is still a work in progress and additional regulatory provisions and requirements will be forthcoming. Additional delays or changes may follow. The retail industry remains committed to complying with the law and NRF will continue its active dialogue with the administration and its agencies to ease implementation burdens for employers and employees. NRF is hopeful that Congress can continue its productive role in health care implementation.”

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