Although the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act isn't new, this is the first year that the IRS is attempting to collect penalties from companies that didn't shell out—for violations incurred in 2015.

But according to a report in Modern Healthcare, they may have a fight on their hands. The penalty, which helps fund the ACA, is assessed if a company with at least 50 full-time employees didn't offer minimum essential coverage to at least 70 percent of its workers and their dependents, and at least one employee was eligible for an advanced premium tax credit.

In addition, companies that offered the option of a qualified plan to at least 70 percent of its full-time workers and their dependents are also on the hook for the penalty if a full-time employee couldn't afford the offered plan and qualified for an advanced premium tax credit.

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