Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Affordable Care Act Health Insurance & Compliance

When it comes to ACA compliant health insurance, a lot of new information is getting thrown around and things can get overwhelming pretty quickly. So here are a few key ACA terms to keep in mind when filing and staying compliant:

Self-Insured Coverage
For self-insured health plans - or self-funded, as they’re sometimes called - the employer assumes financial risk for providing health care benefits to employees. In other words, a self-insured employer would pay claims, usually from an earmarked fund, as they’re incurred instead of a fixed premium to an insurance carrier.

Fully Insured Coverage
Fully-insured health plans, which are the more traditional options for employers, have the employer paying a fixed premium to the insurance carrier each year based on the number of employees enrolled. In this case, the insurance carrier pays any health care claims based on the coverage terms.

Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC)
To put it plainly, MEC is the least amount of health care coverage you need to offer (and what you need to have, if you’re an individual reading this) your employees to remain ACA compliant. You can visit the IRS’s site here for more information on what types of coverage meet MEC requirements.

Minimum Value (MV)
Your employer-sponsored plan must provide the minimum value (MV) of coverage as dictated by the Affordable Care Act. The IRS states that a plan meets MV requirements if “it covers at least 60% of the total allowed cost of benefits that are expected to be incurred under the plan.”

Spouse & Dependent(s) Coverage
Under new Affordable Care Act regulations, offers of coverage to employees by ALEs must now include offers to the employee’s spouse and dependent(s), if applicable. Under ACA guidelines, a dependent is an employee’s child (including legally adopted children) who has not reached the age of 26.

Need to get started on your ACA e-filing? You can do so now at ExpressIRSForms! We’ve also created ExpressACAForms, a full-service e-filing option for Forms 1094 and 1095.

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Employee Eligibility: Determining Status Based on Hours of Service

One of the most important parts of ACA compliance is making sure you make the right offers of coverage to the employees who meet the right amount of hours as dictated by the IRS. Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) must offer at least the minimum amount of coverage as dictated by the ACA to their full-time employees, keeping in mind that the IRS considers 30+ hours a week (130+ hours/month) to be full-time.

So when counting up the hours of your employees, what hours do you need to take into consideration? Well, obviously just the hours the employee worked, right? Sort of. An employee’s hours of service include each hour for which the employee is paid and the hours for which the employee is entitled to payment but no job duties are performed. These hours can include:
  • Paid Family and Medical Leave of Absence (FMLA)
  • Vacation days
  • Sick days
  • Jury duty
  • Military duty

When it comes to what not to count for hours of service, the ACA has an answer for that as well. Excluded from your total tally of hours of service are:
  • Volunteer hours
  • Work study program hours (performed by students, interns)
  • Religious Orders
    • In other words, you don’t need to count service hours for someone “subject to a vow of poverty” who is performing the duties usually required of an active member of the order.
    • This exception is only used in calculating full-time status, not ALE status.
  • Hours paid with foreign-source income

So when you determine the hours your employees have worked, you can do it one of three ways:
  1. By calculating the actual hours of service each month for each employee (this may be more difficult for salaried employees)
  2. By totalling the number of days each month the employee did eight (8) hours of work
  3. By totalling the number of weeks each month the employee did 40 hours of work
ALEs can use any of these methods, but must pick one to stick to for the duration of the calendar year. You may change methods once the year is up. Methods 2 and 3 can both be used for classifying salaried employees, so long as the classifications are consistent. Methods 2 and 3 may not be used if their results understate the employee’s hours, causing them to be classified as non-full-time.

You can find more information for determining the hours of those who are difficult to identify or track (such as adjunct faculty, or those with layover or on-call hours) here.

Once you’ve determined your employees’ hours of service, it’s time to file those ACA Forms 1094 and 1095. You can do that through www.ExpressIRSForms.com. Simply create a free account to get started. If you need help or have any questions, give us a call at (704) 684-4751, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT. We’re also available 24/7 through email: support@ExpressIRSForms.com.

Looking for something a little less hands on? Try our full-service e-filing option, ExpressACAForms.

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Friday, May 27, 2016

What You Need to Know About ACA Form Corrections

While we all want to assume our ACA forms will be filed correctly - with every i dotted, t crossed, and number in its place - the first time around. But with the sheer amount of information that will go into some filers returns, it’s understandable some forms may come back rejected. If that’s the case, you’ll need to be prepared to file an ACA correction.

With ExpressIRSForms, it’s easy to file a correction for your ACA forms. When your return is rejected, our system pulls the form(s) with the error for you to fix and takes you step-by-step through the process of retransmitting.

So what might you possibly need to correct on the forms? Here’s what can be corrected on each form so you can double check before e-filing (although ExpressIRSForms does that too) to help keep your forms from being rejected.

Form 1095-C
  • Employee details
    • Name, address, and SSN
  • Employee offer and coverage information
    • Offer of Coverage code, employee share amount, and Safe Harbor code
  • Covered Individuals details
    • Name, SSN or date of birth, and months covered

Form 1095-B
  • Responsible Individual (employee) details
    • Name, SSN or date of birth, address, and Origin of the Policy code
  • Employer details
    • Name, EIN, and address
  • Issuer details
    • Name, EIN, and address
  • Covered Individuals details
    • Name, SSN or date of birth, and months covered

Form 1094-C
  • Employer details
    • Name, EIN, Address, and Designated Government Entity details (if applicable)
  • ALE member information
    • Total number of 1095-C forms, Aggregated ALE Group details (if applicable)

Form 1094-B
Form 1094-B has no additional information on it that would cause a return to be rejected, and therefore would not require any corrections.

Need help e-filing your ACA forms with ExpressIRSForms? Give us a call Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT, at (704) 684-4751, or send us an email anytime at support@ExpressIRSForms.com.

Looking for something a little less hands on? Check out ExpressACAForms, our full-service ACA e-filing option.

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Measurement Methods for Identifying Full-time Employees for ACA Purposes

One of the most important parts in ACA compliance is identifying which full-time employees to whom you’re required to make offers of health care coverage. First things first, however, you’ll need to determine if you’re an Applicable Large Employer (ALE). In other words, determine if you have 50 or more full-time employees. And keep in mind that the IRS considers 30+ hours a week (or 130 or more hours/month) to be full-time.

There are two methods for determining full-time employee status:
  • The monthly measurement method
    • The employer looks at each month the employee has worked individually to see which ones exceeded 130 hours of service
  • The look-back measurement method
    • The employee goes through a standard measurement period, where they work their usual hours as determined by the employee and employer upon hire.
    • Then, the employer determines the employee’s full-time status based on the measurement period, during what is known as a stability period.
    • Employers may not use the look-back method when determining ALE status, only for an individual employee’s full-time status.

When determining an employee’s status, an hour of service is considered to be each hour the employee is paid (or should be paid) for performing his/her duties as set by the employer, including the hours the employee is entitled to payment during which no duties are performed (like vacation pay, holiday pay, sick leave, disability, layoff period, jury duty, military duty, or leave of absence). For the purpose of the employer shared responsibility provisions, this does not include these hours of service/employees:
  • Volunteer employees
  • Students performing work-study
  • Members of religious orders
  • Compensation that isn’t US source income

You can find more information about totalling hours of employees in more nuanced categories, like adjunct faculty, those who work layover hours (like airline industry employees), and on-call employees, here.

If you have any questions regarding your ACA filing, you can give us a call at the ExpressIRSForms headquarters in Rock Hill, SC. We’re available by phone Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT at (704) 684-4751, and we also offer 24/7 email assistance at support@ExpressIRSForms.com.

Looking for something a little less hands on? Check out ExpressACAForms, our full-service ACA e-filing option.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Health Care Coverage: Self-Insured v. Fully-Insured

There are two main types of health plan employers need to consider when setting up the coverage they’ll over their employees: self-insured (or self-funded) and fully-insured.

The big difference between the two is in self-insured health care coverage plans, the employer assumes financial risk for the employees’ benefits, paying the claims out of pocket rather than a fixed premium to the insurance carrier, like fully-funded plan providers do. Read on to learn a little more about the more specific differences between the two plans.

Self-Insured Plans
Rather than purchasing a fully-insured plan from an insurance carrier, employers who choose a self-insured plan are opting to operate their own health plan. These employers are generally larger ones and benefit from this type of plan because it allows them to save on the premiums insurance companies charge for fully-funded plans. It can be risky, though, because the employer will end up paying more out of pocket if more claims than are expected need to be paid.

Fully-Insured Plans
A fully-insured health plan is the more traditional option for employers, especially if you’re on the smaller end of the ALE scale. For this type of plan, the employer agrees on a fixed premium each year, paid to the insurance company based on the amount of employees the employer has enrolled. The insurance carrier will then pay any health care claims throughout the year, and employees are responsible for any deductibles or co-pays required for services.

Now that you’ve got your ACA-compliant health care coverage, do you know how you’re filing your forms? ExpressIRSForms now offers e-filing for ACA Forms 1094 and 1095, or you can check out ExpressACAForms for our full-service e-filing option.

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ACA Form 1094-C Certification of Eligibility

Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) may be eligible for relief from certain requirements as they transition to payroll and benefits systems that meet Affordable Care Act standards.

In order to indicate to the IRS that they were eligible for this relief on their 2015 ACA return, ALEs will check a box indicating which Certification of Eligibility they qualified for on Line 22 of Form 1094-C. In this post, we’ve compiled a list of the four methods of relief found on Line 22 and how eligibility for them can be met.

Qualifying Offer Method (Box A)
A Qualifying Offer applies if you (the ALE) made a minimum value (MV) offer to at least one full-time employee for each month of the year they were full-time. Additionally, you would’ve needed to offer minimum essential coverage (MEC) to the employee’s spouse and dependent(s) that cost them no more than 9.5% of the federal poverty line (FPL).

Qualifying Offer Method Transition Relief (Box B)
This method of relief is available for the 2015 tax year only. An ALE must have made a qualifying offer (as described above) to 70% of their full-time employees for one or more months of the year. Filing Bonus: If you check Box A or B on your 1094-C, you can use a simplified, generic Form 1095-C instead of individual forms.

Section 4980H Transition Relief (Box C)
Section 4980H relief has two types, depending on just how LE of an ALE you are:
  • Option 1: ALEs with 50-99 FT employees are eligible if they didn’t reduce their workforce or their employees’ hours of work in order to meet ACA compliance requirements. They also can’t have reduced or eliminated coverage offered.
  • Option 2: ALEs with 100+ FT employees with this eligibility are subject to assessable penalty reduced by 80 employees instead of the standard 30.

98% Offer Method (Box D)
ALEs are eligible to check this box if they made an offer of affordable coverage (that meets MV qualifications) for every month of the year to at least 98% of the employees for whom they’re filing 1095-C forms. These can be enrolled full-time and part-time employees.

If you’re eligible for one of these relief methods, be sure to indicate so on your Form 1094-C. ExpressIRSForms can help prompt you to do this when you e-file your ACA Forms through our system, saving you from making any filing errors. For help getting started, you can call our support team in Rock Hill, SC at (704) 684-4751 Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT. After hours, we offer assistance via our email, support@ExpressIRSForms.com.

Looking for something a little less hands-on? Check out ExpressACAForms, our full-service ACA e-filing option.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Got A Lot of ACA Forms to Send Out? Bulk Upload to File in Minutes!

ExpressIRSForms has always worked to make e-filing your information returns with the IRS as easy and hassle-free as possible. That’s why we introduced the Bulk Upload feature with one of our first releases, allowing users to seamlessly upload information and create 1099 or W-2 forms.

Now that you can e-file ACA Forms 1094 and 1095 with ExpressIRSForms, the Bulk Upload feature has been tuned up to include these forms as well!

After you start to e-file ACA Forms 1095-B or 1095-C, you’re asked if you want to enter your employee/recipient information individually or all at once. If you opt for all at once, you’re taken to a screen where you can download our ACA Bulk Upload Excel Template to use or upload one of your own.

Once you upload that template, your ACA forms are completed, without you re-entering all the information you already have into little boxes on a computer screen for (what would at least seem like) hours.

And soon, you’ll even be able to use our Bulk Upload option with file formats other than Excel! We’re working now to add the option to upload already completed ACA PDFs for filers who have their forms but no way to e-file them.

Ready to start e-filing? Log into your ExpressIRSForms account to e-file your ACA forms with the IRS today! If you need help getting started, you can give us a call at (704) 684-4751 during our office hours, which are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT, or send us an email anytime at support@ExpressIRSForms.com.

Looking for something a little less hands-on? Check out ExpressACAForms, our full-service ACA e-filing option.

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ExpressIRSForms Offers Free TIN Matching!

Did you know that when you e-file with ExpressIRSForms, your forms are put through a series of in-depth error checks to ensure your forms get accepted at no additional cost to you? Naturally, this applies to the new ACA Forms 1094 and 1095 available in your ExpressIRSForms account.

A Little Bit of ACA Background Info
Before we get going, it’s important to be aware of the forms to which we’re referring. Forms 1094-B, 1094-C, 1095-B, and 1095-C are now available to be e-filed at ExpressIRSForms, and it’s every bit as easy to file them here as it is your 1099s or W-2s.

Like other information returns, the ACA forms must be filled out in a certain way and require various pieces of information on the people for whom you’re filing. And like the other IRS forms, it’s easy to make a mistake if you’re paper filing or even when staring at the computer screen too long inputting data. That’s why the IRS recommends e-filers like ExpressIRSForms: to cut down on these common errors that cause rejections.

For the ACA forms, the most common rejection error is mismatching TINs. ExpressIRSForms has the aptly titled solution: TIN Matching.

What is TIN Matching?
With the ACA forms, you’re dealing with a lot of IRS Tax Identification Numbers (TINs). Not only do you have your EINs, but you've also got the SSN of every person for whom you’re filing. And each of these TINs is made up of nine very specific numbers in a very specific order. Getting the idea of why mixing up a few of these numbers is a common occurrence now? We thought so.

That’s why ExpressIRSForms prides itself on our TIN matching feature: we’ve taken our extensive experience with the IRS and e-filing and made it almost impossible for your ACA forms to get rejected because of a TIN mismatch.

Want to Know More?
Our customer support team is happy to answer any questions you have! Just give us a call Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. EDT, at (704) 684-4751, or send us an email anytime at support@ExpressIRSForms.com.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand on Taxes?

It’s hard to believe that in just six short months, November will almost be behind us, and a new leader of the free world will have been elected. Sure, President Obama will work to finish out the year before we have an inauguration next January, but in less than half a year, the madness that’s been the 2016 presidential election will have at least lulled, if not subsided altogether.

In the meantime, it’s important to stay abreast on the platforms of each candidate. Since we don’t have the time to get too far into every single issue the candidates have to talk about, we’re going to focus on the one that fits in with the rest of our aesthetic at ExpressIRSForms: taxes.

So where does your presidential hopeful stand when it comes to one of those unavoidable truths?*

Hillary Clinton (D)
While it’s unclear whether the former Secretary of State believes lowering the corporate income tax rate would create jobs, she has made it known that reforming our tax code should be a priority by her support of the Buffett Rule and closure of the carried interest loophole. She is against a flat tax on income, as well as the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act, which bars commercial banks from engaging in investment business. She’s also against Social Security being privatized and is now opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Agreement.

Gary Johnson (L)
Gary Earl Johnson, the 2016 Libertarian candidate and former Governor of New Mexico (1995-2003), advocates that lowering the corporate income tax rate would “literally create millions of jobs,” transforming the US into the “job magnet” of the world. It is unclear, however, if he would raise federal taxes although he was previously against it. He is against a flat tax on income. As for pros, he believes the Glass-Steagall Act should be reinstalled, and Social Security should be privatized.

Bernie Sanders (D)
The Vermont senator disagrees with Johnson that lowering the corporate income tax would create jobs and has introduced a plan to increase the federal tax rate of the nation’s highest earners. He’s also against a flat tax on income and for the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act. He’s against the privatization of Social Security and has staunchly been against the TPP Trade Agreement since its inception.

Jill Stein (G)
Green Party candidate Jill Stein, an American physician and activist, is also for increasing federal taxes, having stated it necessary for a fair tax system, and against a flat tax on income. Like Sanders and Johnson, she’s for the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall, but sides with the Democratic candidates in being against the privatization of Social Security and the TPP Trade Agreement.

Donald Trump (R)
Businessman, television personality, and presumptive nominee of the Republican Party Donald Trump hasn’t made his stance as clear as his fellow candidates on many of the current tax-related topics of the election. He has, however, firmly stated being against federal tax increases as well as the TPP Trade Agreement, calling it a bad deal.

*Listed in alphabetical order by last name. ExpressIRSForms does not endorse any candidate, nor does its parent company, SPAN Enterprises, and any of its affiliated programs. This blog has been produced as neutrally as possible and is intended only for information purposes.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Payback Playbook: How the Government is Helping Student Loans Get Paid

If you’re reading this, there’s a fair chance you’re one of the 43 million Americans affected by the outstanding student loan debt in the US, currently estimated at around $1.3 trillion. And if you’ve defaulted on those student loans, there’s more than a fair chance that you’re in the 70% of those defaulted loan borrowers who could have qualified for reduced, income-based repayment plans.

Understandably, hearing you could’ve avoided the late fees, bad credit, and stress that come with a lack of awareness about better ways to repay student loans can feel a little (or a lot) like rubbing salt in an old wound. But because this is a very common problem, the Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have put together the Payback Playbook, a personalized guide to student loan repayment options.

Currently, you can view a prototype of the playbook, on which anyone can provide feedback through June 12, 2016. You can also request further information here. Once the program is up and running, borrowers will receive a custom playbook from their servicer which clearly presents three personalized repayment options. If you miss a payment or are at risk for default, another playbook is sent to you with a new plan option that describes how to lower your monthly payment.

Record numbers of student loan borrowers continue to struggle with debt, despite growing repayment options over recent years. That’s why work is being done to get the Payback Playbook into circulation as soon as possible, although it’s still unclear when after June 12 they’ll be available.

In the meantime, there are a few known strategies for paying off your student loans faster, including various ways to have your loans forgiven. Research as much as you can, and avoid any late payments if at all possible.

And if you ever need help e-filing your 1099s, W-2s, or ACA Forms, that’s what we’re best at! Give us a call Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT, at (704) 684-4751, or send us an email anytime to support@ExpressIRSForms.com.

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Monday, May 16, 2016

The 5 Financial Mistakes You Do NOT Want to Make

To err is human, right? That’s a pretty safe mindset to have when it comes to spilling milk or putting your shirt on inside out. When it comes to your finances, to err could mean years of righting your mistake and almost certainly end up costing you more.

Since tax season is basically over (except for you ACA filers), you can start to think about more “fun” financial responsibilities, like your savings and what to do with it. Or, if you’re not quite there yet, how to start saving! Whether you’re just starting out developing your financial portfolio, or you’re set and ready to retire, you’ll want to make sure you don’t make these five financial mistakes, lest you get stuck back at Square Negative One.

Borrowing From Your 401(k)
You know you shouldn’t, but it’s so tempting. But, really, you shouldn’t. Sure, you have five years to pay back your loan, but that includes interest. And that’s interest you’ll pay with after-tax dollars, only to pay taxes on those funds when retirement rolls around. Not to mention you could be short-changing your retirement account for months or years, sacrificing employer matches and missing out on investment growth, while you’re paying off your loan. When it comes to taking out a loan, look everywhere you can before going to your 401(k).

Falling for the Actually Too-Good-to-be-True Offers
Yes, this includes timeshares. In addition to the thousands you’ll pay upfront, you’re also looking at maintenance fees, travel costs, and resale prices that just aren’t worth it. And that’s the best case scenario. Worst case, it’s a scam. According to the FTC, Americans lost $765 million to scams in 2015. When it comes to your money, it’s okay to be skeptical; if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Only Paying the Minimum on Your Credit Card
If you’re only paying the minimum amount on your credit card each month, it could take years to pay off. Which, again, would be livable if it weren’t for that pesky interest. Consider a typical credit card scenario: a $5,000 balance on a card with a fixed rate of 12.5%. Making only minimum payments, it would take nearly ten years to pay off and cost $1,700 in interest to do so. $1.700 a lot of money to pay for paying off a loan. Imagine what you could do with that! So stop making new charges and pay more than the minimum.

Claiming Social Security Early
If you start claiming your social security at 62, the age you’re allowed to start taking benefits, your monthly check is reduced by 25% for the rest of your life. If you wait until you’re 66, the “official” retirement age, you’ll receive 100% of your benefit amount. However, if you wait until you turn 70 to claim, you’ll get an 8% boost in benefits each year for four years.

Passing Up on Advice
It takes all types to make the world go ‘round: some are good at finances, some aren’t. And that’s okay, so long as you avoid financial mistakes like these, including one of the most important: not listening to or seeking advice when you need it. There’s a reason we have experts in things like investments, retirement savings, estate planning; find one you work well with, and watch your financial decisions and know-how improve over time.

And if you need advice with your tax e-filing, that’s where we come in! You can call ExpressIRSForms Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT, at (704) 684-4751. You can also send us a live chat during those hours through our site, or send us an email anytime at support@ExpressIRSForms.com!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Ace Adventures: Paper Filers, Start Your Engines!

“Oh, good, you’re here! It’s me, Doc! Things are getting pretty crazy here in ExpressIRSForms, what with the ACA deadline at the end of this month and everyone still being a little unsure about these forms altogether. We don’t want another surprise visit from Confusion on on our hands. Come on down to the square, everyone’s waiting for Ace to come out and tell us what we need to do next!”

“In fact, no one’s around! Where is everyone? It’s almost eerie how quiet it is.”


“Did you hear that?? That sounded like a gun! We’d better get moving; someone might be in trouble! Heck, Ace could be in trouble! I don’t know if that boy’s bullet-proof or not…”

“What the -- the racetrack? What in the sam hill is going on here? Oh, I suppose there’s no use in asking you, you just got here. We gotta find Ace. He’ll know what’s up. Let’s see about getting inside. There you are!”

“Hey, Doc! What’s up?” Ace, who had just walked out of the racetrack, asked.

“You know I hate those jokes.”

“What jokes?”

“The ‘what’s up, doc?’ one -- oh, never mind that now. What happened to everyone? Confusion hasn’t got them has she?”

“Once I explained to the crowd,” Ace continued, “that e-filers had until June 30, and told them that was just the beginning of the e-filing over paper filing benefits, most of them figured it would be best to check out ExpressIRSForms or ExpressACAForms to e-file their ACA forms. Then the paper filers hurried off to work on finishing their forms by the 31st, and the rest of us came here for the big race today. I tell ya, I don’t know how that tortoise keeps beating that hare but--”

“Whoa, before you get going there Ace,” Doc interrupted, “you wanna give the kid here a little recap of your speech? I’m afraid I made us a little late.”

“Oh, of course! Well, the paper filing deadline for ACA forms 1094 and 1095 is May 31, meaning copies need to be stamped and mailed by that day to the IRS. Now, if you have over 250 forms to file, you’re required to e-file. That was the point that got a lot of people who thought they could paper file. Although, why you’d wanna paper file 250 forms, who knows.

“Anyway, paper filing is great and all if you’re a traditionalist, but you’re way less likely to make an error e-filing. Plus, e-filing’s much more secure and helps the whole filing process go more smoothly, especially when it comes to correcting any errors. So, that’s fine if you want to paper file, but more time and security makes e-filing the sweeter deal.”

That’s right, any questions you have regarding ACA e-filing can be directed at us, the ExpressIRSForms support team, AKA Ace’s sidekicks. You can reach us by phone (704-684-4751) and live chat Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT. We also answer emails 24/7 at support@ExpressIRSForms.com.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Has Your Nonprofit Filed the 2015 Form 990?

Did you know that there are over 1.5 million tax-exempt organizations in the US? That includes 1,097,689 public charities, 105,030 private foundations, and 368,337 other types of non-profit organizations, according to the IRS Business Master Files (BMF).

Nonprofit organizations include everything from neighborhood associations to large universities and foundations, soup kitchens and traditional charities to local churches. To maintain their duties in raising awareness/funds and volunteering for their causes, nonprofit organizations can file for tax-exempt status under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) 501(c). Once approved, they must then file some variant of the 990 Form each year to keep their tax-exempt status.

ExpressTaxExempt, a sister product of ExpressIRSForms, offers simplified and streamlined e-filing for three of the most used 990 Forms: Form 990-N (e-Postcard), Form 990-EZ, and the full 990 long form. ExpressTaxExempt is also working to add more versions of the 990 Form, as well as Form 1023, the application for tax-exempt status, to become a complete solution for tax-exempt organizations and nonprofits.

Once you create an account with ExpressTaxExempt, the program will ask you a few questions to determine which form your organization needs to file. The 990-N (e-Postcard) is filed by organizations that make less than $50,000 per year in gross receipts. It’s a quick form that only requires your organization’s details, including the tax period year, and confirmation your organization is still operational and made less than $50,000 that year. The majority of the organizations who file through ETE file this form, and it’s free to e-file for the current tax year (2015). But if you need to e-file tax years 2013 or 2014, it’s only $9.90.

Since the other two forms are filed by organizations who make significantly more in gross receipts each year, they’re a bit more in depth as far as the reporting information goes. Form 990-EZ is the shorter of these two forms, filed by organizations making between $50,000 and $200,000 in gross receipts - with total assets less than $500,000 - for the filing year.

With only one form left, this means organizations making more than $200,000 in gross receipts with assets totaling over $500,000 must file Form 990, the long form. Both Forms 990 and 990-EZ require more extensive reporting on your organization’s revenue and expenses, contributions, volunteers, and employees, etc. Because of the in-depth nature of these forms, ETE breaks down the form into a simplified interview-style process. You just answer questions about your organization and enter a few numbers to show what’s on the books; the program will even automatically compile any schedules you’re required to have based on how you answer the questions.

Because not all organizations follow a calendar year tax period, the official 990 deadline for every tax-exempt organization is the fifteenth day of the fifth month after your tax period end date. So calendar year filers - those with tax periods from January 1 to December 31 - have a deadline of May 15 the year following the year for which they’re filing. In other words, the 2015 990 form deadline for calendar year filers is May 16, 2016! (May 15 is on a Sunday.)

But don’t worry, if your organization still hasn’t filed, you know exactly where to do it: www.ExpressTaxExempt.com. It’s simple, fast, and you have the same friendly, expert customer support you’re used to over here at ExpressIRSForms. They keep the same hours we do, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT; give them a call at (704) 839-2321 or send them a live chat for help getting started. You can also send any questions you have 24/7 to support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mid-Year Tax Tips for Small Businesses

Did you know that May 1-7 is National Small Business Week? It’s true! To recognize and celebrate the local mom and pop stores that have helped build America’s cities and towns, the United States has been observing NSBW since 1963. Small businesses have proven to be the backbone of our nation. Currently, more than half of Americans own or work for a small business, and small businesses are responsible for creating ⅔ of new jobs in the US each year.

Small businesses are the backbone of ExpressIRSForms, too. Well, maybe more like the nervous system, coordinating and transmitting signals where necessary. What we’re trying to say is that we genuinely appreciate you choosing to e-file your important tax documents with ExpressIRSForms, and we want to help you grow just as you’ve helped us.

While a majority of what we’re able to do to help small businesses has past (you know, the e-filing part), we can still impart some wisdom to help you with your taxes throughout the year, not just during tax time. So here are five tax tips for small businesses as we make our way through the middle of 2016:

  1. Keep detailed records as you spend money. And if you’re not the type to remember to write things down, search the App Store or Google Play, because you can bet there’s an app for that!
  2. Don’t mix business and pleasure. As in other situations, financially, business and pleasure just don’t mix. If you’re not incorporated, you’re not required to keep your money in separate accounts. But you might want to get a separate account anyway to keep your business expenses separate from personal, making it easier to keep track of the money you spend (see Tip #1).
  3. Track miles driven in your car. You can calculate deductions for business use of vehicles based on miles driven (at 54 cents/mile) or based on actual expenses. If driving is your business, check out our sister product, TruckLogics, an app that helps truckers keep track of mileage and other expenses while on the road.
  4. Keep it in the family. By employing family members, it’s possible to be eligible to deduct their wages as a business expense (similar to how you can deduct your home office expenses). In turn, this minimizes the amount of taxable income you’re on the hook for.
  5. Add vacation time to business trips. If the primary purpose of your trip is business, you can generally deduct travel expenses like airfare, lodging, ground transport, and 50% of meal costs. So why not add a few days to the end of your trip to relax? Keep in mind though that expenses that are strictly personal cannot be deducted.
Don’t forget also that the ACA deadline comes up mid-year this year, and you can e-file your 1094 and 1095 forms with ExpressIRSForms! For more information, check out our site or give us a call Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. EDT. We’re also available for any questions 24/7 at support@ExpressIRSForms.com!

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Monday, May 2, 2016

There's an ACA Deadline This Month! Are You Ready?

As some of ExpressIRSForms’s regular readers may already know, May marks the first month ever with an OFFICIAL IRS DEADLINE FOR ACA FORMS.

This particular deadline was first set to occur at the end of February, following in line with the 1099 and W-2 deadlines to which we’re all accustomed. But since the IRS felt everyone (themselves included) needed a little more time to understand their ACA reporting and get it in order, they extended each deadline by 2-3 months, giving filers more time to prepare.

So while we’ve already had an ACA deadline this year (back on March 31 with the recipient copies), what we haven’t had is a firm, official ACA deadline for filing with the IRS. Until now.

Your recipient copies, due out by March 31 this year and by January 31 in future years, are good practice for getting the IRS copies of your documents correctly filed the first time through (because they’ll need to be correct for your recipients to make any use of them). They’re not, however, a good example of a hard deadline because unless a recipient reports their 1095 missing or not delivered with the IRS, you’re not really held accountable for getting them out on time.

But, seriously, you might want to make sure that doesn’t happen because you could incur some hefty fines, and the IRS will have to launch an investigation into all of your ACA reporting to ensure you’re compliant with the new laws.

If you’re late on this month’s deadline, you can still get a little bit of a break. May 31 is the paper filing deadline (typically it’ll be February 28/29), but the e-filing deadline isn’t until June 30. Since the IRS doesn’t know/care whether you paper file, you’re welcome to e-file if it’s getting close to May 31 and you’re nowhere near ready.

Okay, so that was a bit of a stretch: the IRS does care if you paper file. They care if you e-file. But what the IRS really cares about is if you don’t do either, which you can read about in our ACA penalties blog so we can get back to the matter at hand.

If you do intend to paper file, make sure that 1) you don’t have more than 250 of any one form (1095-B, 1095-C) to file and 2) you have them signed-sealed-delivered on time:
  1. Like W-2s, 1099s, and most other IRS information returns, if you have more than 250 forms to file, the IRS requires you e-file them. Which, is kind of a bonus anyway, because it’ll take a lot less time to e-file 250 forms than paper file them, and you get more time to do it!
  2. If there’s a chance your paper documents will be late, go ahead and plan to e-file. Most ACA e-filing companies (ExpressIRSForms and our affiliates, ExpressACAForms and ACAwise, included) can help you get your e-forms filled out and submitted based on the information you’ve already gathered. In other words, don’t worry if you miss the May 31 deadline; we’ve got your back on this.

If you have any questions about getting started e-filing your ACA forms (or while in the middle of e-filing them, or even after they’re submitted), you can always reach out to ExpressIRSForms’s friendly, US-based customer support team. We’re available Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT, by phone (704-684-4751) and live chat (www.ExpressIRSForms.com). You can also send us an email anytime at support@ExpressIRSForms.com.

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