The intelligent solution to ACA filing

The filing requirements for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are far more convoluted than they first appear. While the simple instruction “file” doesn’t ring any immediate warning bells, the process can be long, confusing, and just shy of impossible to do correctly.

You can’t be expected to do it alone, so most companies use some kind of filing service. But when it comes to the complicated process of ACA filing, sometimes these simple services still aren’t enough.

The trouble with filing

Manual filing, while theoretically allowed by the IRS for employers of less than 250 people, is not feasible—the sheer volume of paperwork alone assures that. The alternative, e-filing, is simpler but still more difficult than it first appears.

The concept sounds easy—have a computer organize your data, then submit it electronically. But it’s not like submitting a 1040, where you can simply collect your data, enter it, fix any errors you may catch, and move forward. ACA filing requires hundreds of individual forms with massive amounts of data, and with the process so new, it can be immensely difficult to spot an error right from the start.

Even after your data has been organized, double checked, translated to the ACA-appropriate values, and slotted into the correct parts of the form—all processes made simpler by an intelligent solution designed to tackle ACA-specific requirements—the filing process isn’t over.

Once you submit your forms to the IRS for review, you will receive one of three different statuses: accepted, accepted with errors, or rejected. In the case of “accepted with errors” or “rejected” reports, it is your responsibility to find and fix the error in question—in most cases, without explicitly helpful direction from the IRS.

Again, this involves sorting through hundreds of forms and an immense amount of data in order to find an error that the IRS alleges exists. In some cases, the IRS may have flagged correct data as incorrect, due to an error within their own system, further complicating the process. Either way, you’ll be expected to go through the entire filing process again, hoping that this time, you get it right.

An intelligent solution may be able to help

This is where a solution’s intelligence comes in handy. While an e-filing system is great for organizing data, it may not be fluent in the alphanumeric codes used on the tax forms, or the types of errors that frequently need to be fixed. If you input the wrong information in the wrong box, you won’t know. If your report comes back with errors, a simple e-filing solution won’t be able to help you beyond inputting the same (potentially incorrect) information into the same (potentially incorrect) places.

An intelligent solution, on the other hand, can organize what is important, translate it into ACA-friendly language and codes, and slot everything into the right spot using business logic. Once the IRS comes back with an error report, smart solutions can locate and help fix the error, before pre-validating the forms before they go back to the IRS. It doesn’t just sort information; it actively tries to get it right, and has knowledge of the subject matter to assist in this process.

Don’t let errors stump you

Like most parts of the ACA, filing is sneakily hard: It sounds simple, but it requires a lot more time, effort, and data. Luckily, there are tools and intelligent solutions to help you get a grasp on all of the ACA’s nuances and expectations, so that you can report accurately and on time—both requirements to get a pass from the IRS.