*Asked of the IRS in a group call on May 15, 2015.

“The employer must look at all employees when counting heads for ALE status. However, the regulations provide an exception for seasonal workers – employees who perform labor or services on a seasonal basis as defined by the Secretary of Labor, including retail workers employed exclusively during holiday seasons.

  If the employer had more than 50 full-time and full-time equivalent employees for 120 days or less, and   the excess over 50 were seasonal workers, the seasonal workers can be excluded from the count and, as a   result, the employer will not be an applicable large employer.

Now this exception sounds a bit complicated, but the regulations include examples for counting seasonal workers, and here’s another important rule to note:

  Under a longstanding provision that also applies for other tax and employee benefit purposes, companies   with a common owner or that are otherwise related generally are combined and treated as a single   employer for determining ALE status. (These rules are found in Section 414(b), (c), (n), and (o) of the   Internal Revenue Code; they’re called the 414 or Controlled Group Rules.) If the combined number of full-  time and full-time equivalent employees for the group is large enough to meet the ALE definition, then   each company in the group – called an applicable large employer member – is considered to be an A