If you’re an employer who has recently laid people off you may be interested to learn about how the U.S. Internal Revenue Service treats COBRA payments.
COBRA allows former employees to keep receiving health insurance through a former employer.
The IRS allows the employer to receive a tax deduction for COBRA payments the employer makes on behalf of the former employee.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which became law last week, includes changes to the health benefit provisions of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, commonly referred to as COBRA. The new law will affect former employees and their families, employers and others involved in providing COBRA coverage.
Under the new law, eligible former employees, enrolled in their employer’s health plan at the time they lost their jobs, are required to pay only 35 percent of the cost of COBRA coverage. Employers must treat the 35 percent payment by eligible former employees as full payment, but the employers are entitled to a credit for the other 65 percent of the COBRA cost on their payroll tax return.
Employers must maintain supporting documentation for the credit claimed. This includes:
Documentation of receipt of the employee’s 35 percent share of the premium.
In the case of insured plans: A copy of invoice or other supporting statement from the insurance carrier and proof of timely payment of the full premium to the insurance carrier.
Declaration of the former employee’s involuntary termination.
COBRA provides certain former employees, retirees, spouses, former spouses and dependent children the right to temporary continuation of health coverage at group rates. COBRA generally covers health plans maintained by private-sector employers with 20 or more full and part-time employees. It also covers employee organizations or federal, state or local governments. It does not apply to churches and certain religious organizations. The new COBRA subsidy provisions also apply to insurers required to offer continuation coverage under state law similar to the federal COBRA.
For more information, for both employers and former employees, visit this IRS Web page: www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=204505,00.html
Feb. 26, 2009.