March 30, 2020
Update – The AIR system was functioning again late Monday evening. We believe the IRS should still grant employers an automatic 30 day extension due to the AIR system’s failures. In the future we hope the IRS is more transparent regarding the AIR system's failures.
Over the past few days Accord Systems has experienced significant trouble trying to submit the Forms 1094-C and 1095-C to the IRS on our clients’ behalf. While we have experienced difficulties in previous years, 2019 has presented a host of unique problems. We did some due diligence and were fortunate to have multiple people at the IRS get back to us to let us know the IRS is aware of the problems. The remainder of this article summarizes what we learned and discusses what an employer should do in light of the March 31, 2020 deadline to electronically submit the Forms 1094-C and 1095-C to the IRS.
While our IRS contacts would not provide any details, we learned that the IRS Affordable Care Act Information Returns (AIR) system has been down and undergoing maintenance off and on since March 25, 2020. Our issues with the system have not been limited to that time period as the system has been significantly slower than previous years. Any employer currently trying to submit the Forms 1094-C and 1095-C to the IRS is likely receiving a “Gateway Timeout” message from the website.
With the AIR system down and the deadline to submit the Forms 1094-C and 1095-C being March 31, 2020, employers are left with only a few options. The safest option is for an employer to file for an automatic 30 day extension using the Form 8809. An employer can complete the Form 8809 online through the FIRE System at http://fire.irs.gov. Alternatively, an employer could presume the IRS will be generous with filings that are late due to the IRS’ AIR system’s failures.
We believe the government should grant every employer who is submitting the Forms 1094-C and 1095-C electronically an automatic 30 day extension without completing the Form 8809. Additionally, we believe a transparent message should currently be displayed on the AIR system to inform those trying to use it that the system is currently down. Hopefully, within the next few days the IRS will have the AIR system up and functioning with sufficient speed to allow employers to submit the necessary data.
It is our hope that the IRS will provide an automatic 30 day extension to every employer filing electronically by the time this article is published. If not, it would be safest for all employers who have not received a verification from the AIR system that their Forms 1094-C and 1095-C have been received to submit a Form 8809 to the IRS. The IRS needs to be more transparent in issues it is having with the AIR system and more open to assistance from outside sources. By not telling employers that the system has been down off and on for nearly a week, the IRS has wasted a lot of people's time which is disrespectful to put it nicely. If you have any questions regarding ACA reporting, please contact us.
About the author – Ryan Moulder serves as General Counsel at Accord Systems, LLC and is a Partner at Health Care Attorneys P.C. Ryan received his LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center and his J.D. from Saint Louis University School of Law. He has distinguished himself as a leader in the Affordable Care Act arena and has written and spoken on a variety of ACA topics as it relates to compliance for companies.
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