Section 125

Section 125 – Cafeteria Plans Overview

A Section 125 plan, or a cafeteria plan, allows employees to pay for certain benefits on a pre-tax basis. Specifically, employers use these plans to provide their employees with a choice between cash and certain qualified benefits without adverse tax consequences. Paying for benefits on a pre-tax basis reduces the employees’ taxable income and therefore reduces both the employees’ and the employer’s tax liability.

In order to receive these tax advantages, a cafeteria plan must comply with the rules of Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 125 and related Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations. Under these rules, a Section 125 plan must have a written plan document and can only offer certain qualified benefits on a tax-favored basis. While self-employed individuals may maintain a Section 125 plan for their employees, only common law employees may participate in the plan.

In addition, once an employee makes a Section 125 plan election, he or she may not change that election until the next plan year, unless the employee experiences a permitted election change event. Also, in order for highly compensated employees to receive the tax advantages associated with a Section 125 plan, the plan must generally pass certain nondiscrimination tests.


Cafeteria plan basics

Code Section 125 allows employers to establish a type of tax savings arrangement, called a Section 125 plan or cafeteria plan, for their employees. A Section 125 plan provides employees with an opportunity to pay for certain benefits on a pre-tax basis, allowing them to increase their take-home pay. Employers may also make nontaxable contributions to a Section 125 plan for their employees.

Under a Section 125 plan, employees choose between at least one taxable benefit (such as taxable compensation) and one or more qualified benefits. Qualified benefits include, for example, the following commonly offered employee benefits:

• Group health plans;

• Vision and dental plans;

• Disability and life insurance;

• Health flexible spending accounts (FSAs)

• Dependent care assistance programs (DCAPs)

• Health savings account (HSAs).

According to the IRS, a Section 125 plan is the only means by which an employer can offer employees a choice between taxable and nontaxable benefits without causing adverse tax consequences to the employees. To avoid taxation, the Section 125 plan must meet the specific requirements of Code Section 125 and underlying IRS regulations.

Tax Rules: Employees who elect to participate in a Section 125 plan agree to contribute a portion of their salaries on a pre-tax basis to pay for the qualified benefits. These contributions, which are called “salary reduction contributions” are not considered wages for federal income tax purposes, and are generally not subject to Social Security and Medicare tax (FICA) or federal unemployment tax (FUTA). This reduces employees’ taxable income, which results in a savings for both employees and employers.

Next- Part 2 Eligibility Requirements



Live Well Planner


Introducing the
2018 GBS Live Well Planner

These days, you may feel overwhelmed with all the health information available to you. However, there are really only a few basic tips to keep in mind for your optimal health. According to experts, doing the following things can help you achieve total wellness and keep costly, chronic conditions at bay:

• Eat healthy.
• Get regular physical activity.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Manage your stress.
• Visit a primary care physician regularly for checkups.

Doing all of these things, however, can be difficult. This Live Well Planner is designed to make living a healthy lifestyle easier. The GBS Live Well Planner provides you with the tools you need to feel and live healthier than ever before. Each month features exercise, diet and overall wellness articles, while each week provides you with plenty of space to plan your meals, log your workouts, plan your daily activities and appointments—or all of the above!

Each week also offers a “Tip of the Week” designed to help you stay on track and offers a section where you can write down your goals for each week. As an added bonus, the last page of every month will feature two healthy, easy and delicious recipes for you to try. The nutritional information for these recipes is also included.

Staying organized, planning your workouts and meals, and having access to wellness information and healthy recipes is a great way to get yourself on track to achieve your wellness goals. However, please remember that you should speak with a medical professional before you begin a diet and fitness regimen. You and your doctor together can decide the best diet and fitness plan, create reasonable goals and establish a safe, tenable timeline for you to achieve your wellness goals.


Printing out this Live Well Planner is recommended. If you prefer to print out the planner on a month-by-month basis, please follow these instructions:

1. Choose the “Print” option from the “File” menu.
2. Under the “Settings” option, click on the arrow next to “Print All Pages” to access the drop-down menu.
3. Select “Custom Print” and enter the page number range you would like to print, or enter the page number range you would like to print in the “Pages” box.
4. Click “Print.”

Printable Version




Furnishing Deadline Delayed for 2017 ACA Reporting


On Dec. 22, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2018-06 to:

• Extend the due date for furnishing forms under Sections 6055 and 6056 for 2017 for 30 days, from Jan. 31, 2018, to March 2, 2018
• Extend good-faith transition relief from penalties related to 2017 information reporting under Sections 6055 and 6056.
Notice 2018-06 does not extend the due date for filing forms with the IRS for 2017. The due date for filing with the IRS under Sections 6055 and 6056 remains Feb. 28, 2018 (April 2, 2018, if filing electronically).


The IRS is encouraging reporting entities to furnish statements as soon as they are able. No request or other documentation is required to take advantage of the extended deadline.

Section 6055 and 6056 Reporting
Sections 6055 and 6056 were added to the Internal Revenue Code (Code) by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

• Section 6055 applies to providers of minimum essential coverage (MEC), such as health insurance issuers and employers with self-insured health plans. These entities will generally use Forms 1094-B and 1095-B to report information about the coverage they provided during the previous year.

Section 6056 applies to applicable large employers (ALEs)—generally, those employers with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalents, in the previous year. ALEs will use Forms 1094-C and 1095-C to report information relating to the health coverage that they offer (or do not offer) to their full-time employees

Extended Furnishing Deadline

The IRS has again determined that some employers, insurers and other providers of MEC need additional time to gather and analyze the information and prepare the 2017 Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to be furnished to individuals. Therefore, Notice 2018-06 provides an additional 30 days for furnishing the 2017 Form 1095-B and Form 1095-C, extending the due date from Jan. 31, 2018, to March 2, 2018.

Despite the delay, employers and other coverage providers are encouraged to furnish 2017 statements to individuals as soon as they are able.

Filers are not required to submit any request or other documentation to the IRS to take advantage of the extended furnishing due date provided by Notice 2018-06. Because this extended furnishing deadline applies automatically to all reporting entities, the IRS will not grant additional extensions of time of up to 30 days to furnish Forms 1095-B and 1095-C. As a result, the IRS will not formally respond to any requests that have already been submitted for 30-day extensions of time to furnish statements for 2017.

Impact on Filing Deadline

The IRS has determined that there is no need for additional time for employers, insurers and other providers of MEC to file 2017 forms with the IRS. Therefore, Notice 2018-06 does not extend the due date for filing Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C or 1095-C with the IRS for 2017. This due date remains:

  • February 28, 2018, if filing on paper; or
  • April 2, 2018, if filing electronically (since March 31, 2018, is a Saturday).

Because the due dates are unchanged, potential automatic extensions of time for filing information returns are still available under the normal rules by submitting a Form 8809. The notice also does not affect the rules regarding additional extensions of time to file under certain hardship conditions.

Filers are not required to submit a request or other documentation to the IRS to take advantage of the extended furnishing due date provided by Notice 2018-06.

Employers or other coverage providers that do not meet the due dates for filing and furnishing (as extended under the rules described above) under Sections 6055 and 6056 are subject to penalties under Section 6722 or Section 6721 for failure to furnish and file on time. However, employers and other coverage providers that do not meet the relevant due dates should still furnish and file. The IRS will take this into consideration when determining whether to abate penalties for reasonable cause.

Impact on Individuals

Because of the extended furnishing deadline, some individual taxpayers may not receive a Form 1095-B or Form 1095-C by the time they are ready to file their 2017 tax returns. Taxpayers may rely on other information received from their employer or other coverage provider for purposes of filing their returns, including determining eligibility for an Exchange subsidy and confirming that they had MEC for purposes of the individual mandate.

Taxpayers do not need to wait to receive Forms 1095-B and 1095-C before filing their 2017 returns. In addition, individuals do not need to send the information they relied upon to the IRS when filing their returns, but should keep it with their tax records.

Extension of Good-faith Transition Relief from Penalties for 2017

Notice 2018-06 also extends transition relief from penalties for providing incorrect or incomplete information to reporting entities that can show that they have made good-faith efforts to comply with the Sections 6055 and 6056 reporting requirements for 2017 (both for furnishing to individuals and for filing with the IRS).

This relief applies to missing and inaccurate taxpayer identification numbers and dates of birth, as well as other information required on the return or statement. No relief is provided for reporting entities that:

  • Do not make a good-faith effort to comply with the regulations; or
  • Fail to file an information return or furnish a statement by the due dates (as extended).

In determining good faith, the IRS will take into account whether a reporting entity made reasonable efforts to prepare for reporting the required information to the IRS and furnishing it to individuals (such as gathering and transmitting the necessary data to an agent to prepare the data for submission to the IRS or testing its ability to transmit information to the IRS). The IRS will also take into account the extent to which the reporting entity is taking steps to ensure that it will be able to comply with the reporting requirements for 2018.

Contact GBS

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GBS Workplace Wellness Programs

Workplace Wellness Programs

This video provides a sample of the workplace wellness resources available through Group Benefits Strategies.

A Wellness Program gives you the employer an opportunity to offer your employees  discounts, cash rewards, gym memberships, and other incentives to participate. GBS can create a comprehensive wellness program for your team with programs including smoking cessation, diabetes management , weight loss , and preventative health screenings.

For more information contact

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GBS Infographic •Common Payment Models

Overview of Common Payment Models

Group Benefits Strategies is here to help! Contact us today at (508) 832-0490 for more information.


  • The carrier assumes the financial risk of providing health insurance, and the employer is charged a flat monthly fee.
  • The employer typically knows the costs ahead of time since it pays a flat fee every month.
  • Fully insured plans are subject to state rules and regulations.
  • With this type of payment model, costs are unlikely to decrease, even with a low previous-year utilization.


  • The employer assumes the financial risk of providing health insurance and pays for medical claims out of pocket.
  • These models can be more easily customized to fit the specific needs of an employer’s workforce.
  • The employer can contract with providers, or a particular provider network, that will best meet the needs of its employees.
  • The employer will typically work with a third-party administrator (TPA), which assumes claims administration duties.
  • Self-insured health plans are not subject to state health laws, but rather federal laws. These plans are not subject to state health insurance premium taxes.


  • Level funding models are sometimes thought of as a hybrid of fully insured and self-insured payment models.
  • In this type of model, the employer pays a set amount each month to a carrier, and the carrier then pays employees’ claims throughout the year.
  • If the employer’s monthly payments exceeded the amount of claims filed, the employer will receive a refund from the excess they paid in monthly claim allotments. If the employer’s monthly payments did not exceed the amount of claims filed, stop-loss insurance will typically cover the overage amount, if allowed by state law.
  • Typically, an employer will be assisted or advised by a TPA on the previous two bullet points.
  • Companies with smaller numbers of employees may benefit differently than those with larger numbers.

Latest ACA Repeal Bill Withdrawn


By GBS Team

The Graham-Cassidy bill, the most recent Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was withdrawn from a vote on Sept. 26 due to lack of support in the Senate,
effectively dooming the legislation. Earlier that week, key Republican senators voiced opposition to the bill, which forced Senate leadership to shelf the vote until further notice. Given the
vocal opposition from influential health organizations and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, the proposed bill would need a variety of amendments before plausibly moving forward.

This means the ACA will almost certainly remain unopposed until 2018. Republicans are using the remainder of the year to focus on a tax overhaul and do not have the bandwidth to continue the repeal and replace effort that has consumed most of this year.

With this latest repeal failure, more and more lawmakers are pushing for bipartisan negotiations to fix the flaws in the current health system. Democrats hope this most recent repeal failure will
increase their bargaining position, since they were largely ignored during all the health bill drafting sessions this year. If Republicans cannot secure enough of their members’ votes, they will be forced to negotiate with their counterparts.

What This Means for Employers

The IRS confirmed recently that employers should continue to comply with any ACA mandates, including the individual mandate and the employer shared responsibility rules. The IRS clarified this after the uncertainty created by President Donald Trump’s initial executive order directing federal agencies to provide relief from the burdens of the ACA.