ACA Pay or Play Penalties Will Increase for 2021


The IRS recently updated its frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the pay or play penalties to include increased penalty amounts for the 2021 calendar year. For the 2021 calendar year, the adjusted $2,000 amount is $2,700, and the adjusted $3,000 amount is $4,060.


Pay or Play Penalties

Two separate penalties can apply under the employer shared responsibility rules—the Section 4980H(a) penalty and the Section 4980H(b) penalty.


  • The Section 4980H(a) penalty can apply when an ALE does not offer coverage to “substantially all” full- time employees (and dependents). The annual Section 4980H(a) penalty is calculated as the ALE’s number of full-time employees (minus 30) x $2,000 (as adjusted).

  • The Section 4980H(b) penalty can apply when an ALE does not offer coverage to all full-time employees, or the ALE’s coverage is unaffordable or does not provide minimum value. The annual Section 4980H(b) penalty is calculated as $3,000 (as adjusted) x the number of the ALE’s full-time employees who receive an Exchange subsidy.