joseph castellano

As an employer, your size – for purposes of the Affordable Care Act –  is determined by the number of your employees. If you hire seasonal or holiday workers, you should know how these employees are counted under the health care law.

Employer benefits, opportunities and requirements are dependent upon your organization’s size and the applicable rules. If you have at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, on average during the prior year, you are an ALE for the current calendar year.  However, there is an exception for seasonal workers.

If you have at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, on average during the prior year, your organization is an ALE. Here’s the exception: If your workforce exceeds 50 full-time employees for 120 days or fewer during a calendar year, and the employees in excess of 50 during that period were seasonal workers, your organization is not considered an ALE. For this purpose, a seasonal worker is an employee who performs labor or services on a seasonal basis.

The terms seasonal worker and seasonal employee are both used in the employer shared responsibility provisions, but in two different contexts. Only the term seasonal worker is relevant for determining whether an employer is an applicable large employer subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions.  For information on the difference between a seasonal worker and a seasonal employee under the employer shared responsibility provisions see our Questions and Answers page.

See the Determining if an Employer is an Applicable Large Employerpage on for details about counting full-time and full-time equivalent employees. You can also see our Health Care Law: Highlights for Applicable Large Employers video on the IRS YouTube channel’s Health Care also has information that can answer your employees’ questions about the health care law.

Under the Affordable Care Act, certain organizations must report information to the IRS and individuals about health insurance coverage. The reporting requirements apply to insurance companies, self-insured companies, applicable large employers and employers that provide health insurance to their employees. ACA information returns and transmittals are electronically filed through the ACA Information Return system, also known as AIR.

The ACA Assurance Testing System opens November 7 for tax year 2016 testing. AATS is a process to test software and electronic transmissions prior to accepting software developers, transmitters, and issuers into the AIR program. Software developers – including employers and issuers – who passed AATS for tax year 2015 will not have to retest for tax year 2016; their tax year software packages will be moved into production status. New participants need to comply with test requirements for tax year 2016.

Other non-ACA information returns – such as Forms 1099 – can be electronically transmitted through the Filing Information Returns Electronically system, also known as FIRE.  Even if you previously used FIRE, if you are transmitting to AIR, you should familiarize yourself with the AIR procedures, which are different than those for FIRE.

If you are required to file 250 or more information returns, you must file them electronically. This requirement applies separately for each type of return and separately to each type of corrected return. All filers are encouraged to electronically file even if you have less than 250 returns. has an array of tools and products to help you navigate the AIR system:

Announcement 2016-39 provides relief to taxpayers who have been adversely affected by Hurricane Matthew and who have retirement assets in qualified employer plans that they would like to use to alleviate hardships caused by Hurricane Matthew.

Announcement 2016-39 will be in IRB 2016-45, dated November 7, 2016.

WASHINGTON –– Hurricane Matthew victims in much of North Carolina and parts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida have until March 15, 2017, to file certain individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments, the Internal Revenue Service announced today. This includes an additional filing extension for those with valid extensions that run out at midnight tonight, Oct. 17.

The IRS is now offering this expanded relief to any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as qualifying for either individual assistance or public assistance. Moreover, taxpayers in counties added later to the disaster area will automatically receive the same filing and payment relief.

The IRS is taking this step due to the unusual factors involving Hurricane Matthew and the interaction with the Oct. 17 extension deadline.

The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on Oct. 4, 2016. As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until March 15, 2017, to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period. This includes the Jan. 17 deadline for making quarterly estimated tax payments. For individual tax filers, it also includes 2015 income tax returns that received a tax-filing extension until today, Oct. 17, 2016. The IRS noted, however, that because tax payments related to these 2015 returns were originally due on April 18, 2016, those are not eligible for this relief.

A variety of business tax deadlines are also affected including the Oct. 31 and Jan. 31 deadlines for quarterly payroll and excise tax returns. It also includes the special March 1 deadline that applies to farmers and fishermen who choose to forgo making quarterly estimated tax payments.

In addition, the IRS is waiving late-deposit penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits normally due on or after Oct. 4 and before Oct. 19 if the deposits are made by Oct. 19, 2016. Details on available relief can be found on the disaster reliefpage on

The IRS automatically provides filing and penalty relief to any taxpayer with an IRS address of record located in the disaster area. Thus, taxpayers need not contact the IRS to get this relief. However, if an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date falling within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the number on the notice to have the penalty abated.

In addition,the IRS will work with any taxpayer who lives outside the disaster area but whose records necessary to meet a deadline occurring during the postponement period are located in the affected area. Taxpayers qualifying for relief who live outside the disaster area need to contact the IRS at 866-562-5227. This also includes workers assisting the relief activities who are affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization.

Individuals and businesses who suffered uninsured or unreimbursed disaster-related losses can choose to claim them on either the return for the year the loss occurred (in this instance, the 2016 return normally filed next year), or the return for the prior year (2015). See Publication 547 for details.

Currently, the following areas are eligible for relief:

North Carolina: Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Harnett, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Tyrrell, Washington, Wayne and Wilson counties.


South Carolina: Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Darlington, Dillon, Dorchester, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Jasper, Marion, Orangeburg and Williamsburg counties.


Georgia: Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty and McIntosh counties.


Florida: Brevard, Duval, Flagler, Indian River, Nassau, St. Johns, St. Lucie and Volusia counties.

The tax relief is part of a coordinated federal response to the damage caused by severe storms and flooding and is based on local damage assessments by FEMA. For information on disaster recovery, visit

WASHINGTON  — The Internal Revenue Service today advised taxpayers affected by Hurricane Matthew but not yet covered by a federal disaster declaration with individual assistance that they may qualify for relief from penalties if they are unable to meet Monday’s extended deadline for filing 2015 tax returns.

The IRS noted that additional individual assistance areas could be added to the federal disaster area in coming days based on continuing damage assessments by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These additional disaster declarations will pave the way for additional extensions and other relief from the IRS. This means that the IRS will automatically provide retroactive extensions and other relief to any locality added to the federal disaster area at a later date. In areas with disaster declarations for individual assistance, taxpayers will have until  March 15, 2017 to file returns otherwise due on Monday, October  17.

“The hurricane and flooding have hit many different states hard, and the timing of this is especially tough for taxpayers and tax professionals planning to file by the Oct. 17 extension deadline,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “We have been watching this situation unfold and remain in close touch with FEMA. We will do everything we can to work with taxpayers who are in affected areas.”

The IRS reminds taxpayers that there is no penalty for filing a late return qualifying for a refund. This means, for example, that a taxpayer who received a valid extension and overpaid any expected tax due before April 18 will not face a late penalty, even if they file after Oct. 17.

Taxpayers affected by Hurricane Matthew who owe tax should file when they are reasonably able. If they live outside the federally-declared disaster area, they may receive a penalty notice from the IRS. If this happens, they can request abatement of the penalties, based on reasonable cause, by replying in writing to the penalty notice and explaining that they’re impacted by the hurricane.

A complete up-to-date rundown of relief being provided to victims of Hurricane Matthew can be found on the disaster relief page on As of Thursday, 17 counties in North Carolina are eligible for relief.

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners today issued an alert to taxpayers and tax professionals to be on guard against fake emails purporting to contain an IRS tax bill related to the Affordable Care Act.

The IRS has received numerous reports around the country of scammers sending a fraudulent version of CP2000 notices for tax year 2015. Generally, the scam involves an email that includes the fake CP2000 as an attachment. The issue has been reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for investigation.

The CP2000 is a notice commonly mailed to taxpayers through the United States Postal Service. It is never sent as part of an email to taxpayers. The indicators are:

  • These notices are being sent electronically, even though the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or through social media platforms;
  • The CP 2000 notices appear to be issued from an Austin, Texas, address;
  • The underreported issue is related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requesting information regarding 2014 coverage;
  • The payment voucher lists the letter number as 105C.

The fraudulent CP2000 notice included a payment request that taxpayers mail a check made out to “I.R.S.” to the “Austin Processing Center” at a Post Office Box address. This is in addition to a “payment” link within the email itself.

IRS impersonation scams take many forms: threatening telephone calls, phishing emails and demanding letters. Learn more at Reporting Phishing and Online Scams.

Taxpayers or tax professionals who receive this scam email should forward it to  and then delete it from their email account.

Taxpayers and tax professionals generally can do a keyword search on for any notice they receive. Taxpayers who receive a notice or letter can view explanations and images of common correspondence on at Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter.

To determine if a CP2000 notice you received in the mail is real, see the Understanding Your CP2000 Notice, which includes an image of a real notice.

A CP2000 is generated by the IRS Automated Underreporter Program when income reported from third-party sources such as an employer does not match the income reported on the tax return. It provides extensive instructions to taxpayers about what to do if they agree or disagree that additional tax is owed.

It also requests that a check be made out to “United States Treasury” if the taxpayer agrees additional tax is owed. Or, if taxpayers are unable to pay, it provides instructions for payment options such as installment payments.

The IRS and its Security Summit partners – the state tax agencies and the private-sector tax industry – are conducting a campaign to raise awareness among taxpayer and tax professionals about increasing their security and becoming familiar with various tax-related scams. Learn more at Taxes. Security. Together. or Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself.

Taxpayers and tax professional should always beware of any unsolicited email purported to be from the IRS or any unknown source. They should never open an attachment or click on a link within an email sent by sources they do not know.

WASHINGTON – With a key certification deadline fast approaching, the Internal Revenue Service today urged employers to take advantage of a valuable tax credit designed to help those who hire long-term unemployment recipients, certain veterans, recipients of various kinds of public assistance and other workers who face significant barriers to employment.

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, enacted last December, retroactively extended the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) for nine categories of workers hired on or after Jan. 1, 2015. For the first time, the legislation also added a tenth category for long-term unemployment recipients hired on or after Jan. 1, 2016 who had been unemployed for a period of at least 27 weeks and received state or federal unemployment benefits during part or all of that time. The special Sept. 28, 2016 certification deadline applies to eligible workers hired between Jan. 1, 2015 and Aug. 31, 2016.

Normally, to qualify for the credit, an employer must first request certification by filing IRS Form 8850 with the state workforce agency within 28 days after the eligible worker begins work. But due to the late enactment of the legislation extending the WOTC and its retroactive impact, the IRS is giving employers extra time, until Sept. 28, to make requests related to eligible workers hired any time in 2015 and during the first eight months of 2016. The regular 28-day rule will again apply for any eligible worker hired after Aug. 31, 2016. Other requirements and further details can be found in the instructions to Form 8850, Notice 2016-22 and Notice 2016-40, available on

The 10 categories of WOTC-eligible workers include:

  • Qualified IV-A Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients
  • Unemployed veterans, including disabled veterans
  • Ex-felons
  • Designated community residents living in Empowerment Zones or Rural Renewal Counties
  • Vocational rehabilitation referrals
  • Summer youth employees living in Empowerment Zones
  • Food stamp (SNAP) recipients
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients
  • Long-term family assistance recipients
  • Qualified long-term unemployment recipients (for people who begin work after 2015).

Eligible businesses claim the WOTC on their income tax return. The credit is first figured on Form 5884 and then becomes a part of the general business credit claimed on Form 3800.

Though the credit is not available to tax-exempt organizations for most categories of new hires, a special rule allows them to get the WOTC for hiring qualified veterans. These organizations claim the credit on Form 5884-C. Visit the WOTC page on for more information.

If you are divorcing or recently divorced, taxes may be the last thing on your mind. However, these events can have a big impact on your wallet. Alimony and a name or address change are just a few items you may need to consider. Here are some key tax tips to keep in mind:

  • Child Support.  Child support payments are not deductible and if you received child support, it is not taxable.
  • Alimony Paid.  You can deduct alimony paid to or for a spouse or former spouse under a divorce or separation decree, regardless of whether you itemize deductions. Voluntary payments made outside a divorce or separation decree are not deductible. You must enter your spouse’s Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number on your Form 1040 when you file.
  • Alimony Received.  If you get alimony from your spouse or former spouse, it is taxable in the year you get it. Alimony is not subject to tax withholding so you may need to increase the tax you pay during the year to avoid a penalty. To do this, you can make estimated tax payments or increase the amount of tax withheld from your wages.
  • Spousal IRA.  If you get a final decree of divorce or separate maintenance by the end of your tax year, you can’t deduct contributions you make to your former spouse’s traditional IRA. You may be able to deduct contributions you make to your own traditional IRA.
  • Name Changes.  If you change your name after your divorce, be sure to notify the Social Security Administration. File Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. You can get the form on or call 800-772-1213 to order it. The name on your tax return must match SSA records. A name mismatch can cause problems in the processing of your return and may delay your refund.  Health Care Law Considerations.
  • Special Marketplace Enrollment Period.  If you lose health insurance coverage due to divorce, you are still required to have coverage for every month of the year for yourself and the dependents you can claim on your tax return. You may enroll in health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace during a Special Enrollment Period, if you lose coverage due to a divorce.
  • Changes in Circumstances.  If you purchase health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you may get advance payments of the premium tax credit. If you do, you should report changes in circumstances to your Marketplace throughout the year. These changes include a change in marital status, a name change, a change of address, and a change in your income or family size. Reporting these changes will help make sure that you get the proper type and amount of financial assistance. This will also help you avoid getting too much or too little credit in advance.
  • Shared Policy Allocation. If you divorced or are legally separated during the tax year and are enrolled in the same qualified health plan, you and your former spouse must allocate policy amounts on your separate tax returns to figure your premium tax credit and reconcile any advance payments made on your behalf. Publication 974, Premium Tax Credit, has more information about the Shared Policy Allocation. For more on this topic, see Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals. You can get it on at any time.

IRS Tax Tips provide valuable information throughout the year. offers tax help and info on various topics including common tax scamstaxpayer rights and more.

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service is proposing a revised schedule of user fees that would take effect on Jan. 1, 2017, and apply to any taxpayer who enters into an installment agreement.

The proposal, one of several user fee changes made this year, reflects the law that federal agencies are required to charge a user fee to recover the cost of providing certain services to the public that confer a special benefit to the recipient. Although some installment agreement fees are increasing, the IRS will continue providing reduced-fee or no-cost services to low-income taxpayers.

Installment Agreement Fees
The revised installment agreement fees of up to $225 would be higher for some taxpayers than those currently in effect, which can be up to $120. However, under the revised schedule any affected taxpayer could qualify for a reduced fee by making their request online using the Online Payment Agreement  application on Moreover, there would be no change to the current $43 rate that applies to the approximately one in three taxpayer requests that qualify under low-income guidelines. These guidelines, which change with family size, would enable a family of four with total income of around $60,000 or less to qualify for the lower fee.  Also, for the first time, any taxpayer regardless of income would qualify for a new low $31 rate by requesting an installment agreement online and choosing to pay what they owe through direct debit.

The top rate of $225 applies to taxpayers who enter into an installment agreement in person, over the phone, by mail or by filing Form 9465 with the IRS. But a taxpayer who establishes an agreement in this manner can substantially cut the fee to just $107 by choosing to make their monthly payments by direct debit from their bank account.

Alternatively, a taxpayer who chooses to set up an installment agreement using the agency’s Online Payment Agreement application will pay a fee of $149. Similarly, they can cut this amount to just $31 by also choosing direct debit.

Proposed Fees
Here is the proposed schedule of user fees:

Regular installment agreement:    $225

Regular direct debit installment agreement:  $107

Online payment agreement:    $149

Direct debit online payment agreement:   $31

Restructured or reinstated installment agreement: $89

Low-income rate:      $43

Further details on these proposed changes can be found in proposed regulations (REG-108792-16), now available in the Federal Register. The IRS welcomes comment on these changes, and a public hearing on the regulations will take place in Washington, D.C. See the proposed regulations for details on submitting comments.

By law, federal agencies are required to charge a user fee to recover the cost of providing certain services to the public that confer a special benefit to the recipient. Installment agreements are an example of a service that confers a special benefit to eligible taxpayers. Agencies must review these fees every two years to determine whether they are recovering the costs of providing these services.

In the past, the IRS often charged less than the full cost for many services in an effort to make them accessible to a broader range of taxpayers. But given current constraints on agency resources, the IRS can no longer continue this practice in most cases.

Nevertheless, the IRS intends to continue providing reduced-fee or no-cost services to low-income taxpayers. For that reason, the IRS will continue subsidizing part of the cost of providing installment agreements to low-income taxpayers.

Understanding your tax obligation is one key to business success. When you start a business, you need to know about income taxes, payroll taxes and much more. Here are five IRS tax tips that can help you get your business off to a good start:

  1. Business Structure. An early choice you need to make is to decide on the type of structure for your business. The most common types are sole proprietor, partnership and corporation. The type of business you choose will determine which tax forms you file.
  2. Business Taxes.  There are four general types of business taxes. They are income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax and excise tax. In most cases, the types of tax your business pays depends on the type of business structure you set up. You may need to make estimated tax payments. If you do, you can use IRS Direct Pay to make them. It’s the fast, easy and secure way to pay from your checking or savings account.
  3. Employer Identification Number (EIN).  You may need to get an EIN for federal tax purposes. Search “do you need an EIN” on to find out if you need this number. If you do need one, you can apply for it online.
  4. Accounting Method.  An accounting method is a set of rules that you use to determine when to report income and expenses. You must use a consistent method. The two that are most common are the cash and accrual methods. Under the cash method, you normally report income and deduct expenses in the year that you receive or pay them. Under the accrual method, you generally report income and deduct expenses in the year that you earn or incur them. This is true even if you get the income or pay the expense in a later year.
  5. Employee Health Care.  The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit helps small businesses and tax-exempt organizations pay for health care coverage they offer their employees. You’re eligible for the credit if you have fewer than 25 employees who work full-time, or a combination of full-time and part-time. The maximum credit is 50 percent of premiums paid for small business employers and 35 percent of premiums paid for small tax-exempt employers, such as charities. For more information on your health care responsibilities as an employer, see the Affordable Care Act for Employers page on

Get all the basics of starting a business on at the Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center.

IRS Tax Tips provide valuable information throughout the year. offers tax help and info on various topics including common tax scamstaxpayer rights and more.

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