Spring Is Here! So Is Tax Season. Are Employees Ready? [ACA Series]

This time of year is exciting. Trees are blossoming, flowers are blooming and the weather is warming up. And then, just when you’re caught up in the beauty of nature coming back to life, another part of life smacks you right across the face: tax season. It’s here and your tax forms have to be mailed out in 14 business days (to be exact) whether you like it or not. In HR, we anticipate it and prepare for it all year long but we’re expecting a change since the the Affordable Care Act went into effect.

However, employees aren’t as well informed. Employees don’t understand how it relates to their taxes. Our recent ACA study found that 3 out of 4 employees don’t know how ACA will affect their filings.

And even those who think they understand don’t know everything. In 2016, employees will need to file a form (1095-C) to show they have ACA-compliant healthcare coverage. You probably know this, but 95 percent of your people don’t. Taxes seem to be a particularly perplexing part of ACA, as only 16 percent of respondents who felt they understood ACA well or very well actually knew the correct form.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could send employees the information and required forms and then categorize everything else dealing with taxes (and understanding them) as “not HR’s job”? Honestly, some of us may do this simply because educating employees doesn’t seem mission critical. But it can be the wrong approach.

Consider this: Nine out of ten employees who blame their employer for increased insurance costs say they don’t understand how ACA affects their taxes very well or at all. However, of all employees who say they understand ACA well or very well, only one out of 10 say they blame their employer.

We tend to be harder on those closest to us. So, when employees don’t know much about health care, most of them are going to blame the company for increased costs (because that’s easier than learning to understand ACA and taxes). But when you educate your employees about ACA, the amount who blame the company drops to only 11 percent.

If you could do something to earn 80 percent higher levels of trust from your employees, wouldn’t you do it? Especially if it were only a matter of educating them on something you are (likely by now) an expert on?

HR is the employee ally. We’re their advocates and want to help them. We navigate laws and research benefits to make sure we provide what’s best for our people. Let’s alleviate a major painpoint employees have and—though it may also be self-serving—increase their satisfaction, trust and loyalty to the company.

Educating employees is extremely impactful. And it really doesn’t have to take much time to do. Organize a company meeting to discuss these things. Do a lunch-and-learn event where employees can ask questions about ACA and taxes. If you can, bring in a CPA for employees to consult with. Even if all you can muster is compiling content that will help employees understand how ACA affects their taxes (and really, affects them in general), do it. Find relevant materials and upload them to a place where everyone can access them—like an HRIS. You will reap benefits from your strategic efforts. Take a minute to consider the impact you can have, and then start today.

If you’d like to dive deeper into the data from this study, check out the full infographic and survey report.