"Tax Departments Should Stay Familiar With Their Wellness Programs, Attorney Says"BNA Pension & Benefits Daily
Garrett Fenton and Allison Rogers emphasized the role that the tax department should take in the establishment and operation of their companies' wellness programs during the BNA webcast, "Wellness Programs: What Every Tax Department Needs to Know."
While reviewing recent rule changes, Fenton described how wellness regulations may vary benefits based on health factors. "Wellness program regulations essentially contain exceptions that allow a wellness program in connection with a group health plan to vary benefits or premiums based on health factors," he said. "So even though you technically are discriminating based on some health factor, that will be OK if you comply with the wellness program regulations."
In addition to outlining the specific rules under HIPPA and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that impact taxes, Fenton and Rogers reviewed the penalties for violating these rules and made a case for the tax department to be closely involved. "If there's any sort of violation, any sort of tax issues, ultimately it's going to end up on the tax department's desk to deal with it. Whether its defending an IRS assessment or dealing with any employee tax issues that come up, or any audit situations, it's the tax department that will have to deal with it and defend it," Fenton said. "Any violation of the wellness rules can give rise to an excise tax, ultimately it will be your problem in the tax department to fix, even though you haven't been involved necessarily in the process."
This article was also published in BNA's Health Lawyer and BNA Daily Report for Executives.