IRS releases O-Care employer mandate guidance after long wait

The Obama administration released guidance for businesses that must comply with the employer mandate Thursday after a long wait that raised questions about a possible third delay in the policy.

The Internal Revenue Service posted draft instructions on its website related to the mandate's reporting requirements, a final step before businesses can construct the databases they need in order to comply.

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The materials had been expected prior to July 4, and frustration rose among businesses when the IRS released several outstanding forms last month without the necessary technical guidance made available on Thursday.

"Filling out the forms without instructions is kind of like putting a piece of furniture together without the guide," said Neil Trautwein, vice president at the National Retail Federation.

"The big get was the forms themselves, but the instructions will hopefully tell us what to do with each screw."

Trautwein later released a statement calling the instructions "helpful" and welcome to the retail industry.

The employer mandate, which requires businesses to offer health coverage to workers, is scheduled to take effect in January for larger firms.

Medium-sized companies can avoid penalties until 2016 under the administration's second delay of the policy.

—This post was updated Friday at 5:30 p.m.

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