Being a health insurance broker involves juggling many important tasks on behalf of your client. One of these crucial tasks is ensuring your client complies with state and federal regulations by staying up to date on tax deadlines and filing timely reports.
Missing a deadline can be a serious matter. You could risk incurring penalties for your client, not to mention damaging your reputation as a broker and spending significant time getting your client back into compliance. While managing several deadlines may seem overwhelming, a compliance calendar can help you stay organized, so you don’t miss any vital details.
Many brokers benefit from having a compliance calendar to track dates and fulfill regulatory obligations. In the sections below, we’ll cover how a compliance calendar can help keep you organized and on track to better serve your clients.
What is a compliance calendar?
A compliance calendar tracks all of your and your client’s required filings, deadlines, and related information, so you can steer your clients clear of any fines or penalties resulting from missing information or late filings.
While they often feature federal deadlines, like IRS tax requirements, compliance calendars can also be used to organize internal information, such as deadlines specific to your client’s business and any requirements on the state or international level.
A successful compliance calendar will contain key filing obligations, important deadlines, and the individual or groups responsible for preparing and submitting the filings. An advantage of having all dates and information in one place is that the calendar can be shown to regulatory agencies as proof of compliance tracking in case of a compliance audit.
Why is a compliance calendar important?
Using a compliance calendar can mitigate the risk of fines and penalties that come with missed or late filings, which can hurt your business, finances, and reputation. Having an organized view of upcoming responsibilities allows you and your client to take comfort in knowing deadlines will be handled in a consistent, timely, and thorough way.
If you’re an individual health insurance broker, a benefit of using a compliance calendar is that you won’t have to constantly remind yourself about critical regulations. Your calendar can keep you up to date on all the forms you need to file and when they’re due.
If you work in a broker agency, a compliance calendar is also a handy way to keep everyone on the same page regarding important compliance deadlines for your clients.
What should a compliance calendar include?
Determining what to include in your compliance calendar depends on your client’s particular needs and the type of compliance requirements they face. Filing deadlines vary by state and federal guidelines and can change from year to year, such as if the IRS issues a tax extension.
Some business filing deadlines, like license and permit renewals, occur annually, so you may want a separate annual calendar to track these deadlines. Other important dates you might include are your client’s meetings, schedule, and special compliance tasks or events.
As a health insurance broker, there are some key dates that you’ll always want to make sure are included in your compliance calendar. Let’s dive into a few of those deadlines and common compliance situations below.
Health insurance deadlines
The most important health insurance deadlines are the open enrollment period and the special enrollment period. Although open enrollment dates can vary year to year, it generally begins in November and ends in December. Some years, an extension moves the end of the period to mid-January.
Special enrollment periods occur on a case-by-case basis. If a person has a qualifying life event that triggers a special enrollment period, they can enroll or change their health plan outside of the standard open enrollment period.
- Open enrollment period
- Federal marketplace: Typically runs from November 1 - December 15.
- State exchanges: States are free to set their own deadline, as long as their period doesn’t end before December 15.
- Special enrollment period
- Generally speaking, a person will have 60 days to enroll in a new health plan through the federal or state marketplace following their qualifying life event.
If you fail to notify your client of a tax deadline, the IRS can hit them with a penalty. It's easy to avoid these pitfalls, though—just record them accurately in your calendar. But it's not always easy keeping track of all the various tax dates.
Federal guidelines can change from year to year, especially if an extension is issued. State filing and payment deadlines can vary and aren’t always the same as the federal filing deadlines, so confirm those dates with your state’s tax offices.
Additionally, some IRS deadlines are delayed to the next business day if they fall on a weekend or a holiday. Because these deadlines are so important, check with your bank for processing guidelines so transactions can be made promptly to meet the deadlines.
Important tax dates:
- January 31
- Deadline for employers to mail out their W-2s, wage and tax statements, and various 1099 Forms.
- February 15
- Deadline for brokers to send their Form 1099-B to their clients. The form records clients' gains and losses during a tax year.
- April 15
- Deadline to file federal individual income tax returns.
- Deadline to file for a federal extension and pay any taxes.
- Deadline for IRA and health savings account (HSA) contributions.
- October 17
- Deadline to file federal and personal income tax returns if you filed an extension with the IRS. However, any taxes you owe are still due on April 15.
- December 31
- Deadline to take required minimum distributions.
- Deadline to convert a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA.
- Deadline to sell non-qualified securities to realize a gain or loss.
- Deadline to make charitable gifts that may qualify for a federal income tax deduction.
For applicable large employers (ALEs) or small employers who offer self-insured group health plans, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting obligations are critical. To ensure your ALE clients comply with the ACA, brokers should provide the necessary healthcare reporting forms to their clients to meet the reporting deadlines so a penalty isn’t incurred.
Similarly, the EEO-1 report is a mandatory reporting requirement for many U.S. employers. Annually submitted to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the penalties for not filing or submitting inaccurate filing are steep. However, not all employers are required to submit an EEO-1 report, so check the compliance filing requirements carefully.
- ACA Forms
- Forms 1095-B and 1094-B inform the IRS about full-time employees covered by minimum essential coverage (MEC) and therefore not liable for the individual shared responsibility payment. The deadline to submit these forms is March 31.
- Forms 1095-C and 1094-C are for ALEs and self-insured employers if they offered health coverage to their employees that year. The deadline to submit these forms is March 31.
- EEOC Forms
- Submit your EEO-1 report to the EEOC by March 31 of the following year
Regulations within the health insurance and tax industry can be tricky to keep track of if you’re not careful. If you want to stay on top of upcoming deadlines and keep your client’s business running smoothly, you should consider using a compliance calendar to help you reach your goal.
Compliance calendars aren’t one size fits all for brokers, so it’s important to customize your compliance plan to fit your personal needs. With your important dates organized, you can spend your time where it’s truly needed—growing your business and helping your clients—instead of worrying about missing a deadline.