September 18, 2010
Small Business Gets a Tax Credit for Health Care
Small business pays 18 percent more for the same health care coverage for employees that large businesses have, according to John Arensmeyer, chief executive of Small Business Majority. With astronomical increases in premiums over the past several years, many small business owners are considering dropping health care coverage. For these business owners, the new small business tax credit for employee health coverage comes just in time to avoid making this hard choice.
According to the NY Times:
Just over one-third of Americans work for small businesses with fewer than 100 employees. If you’re one of those workers, you know that very few small companies offer comprehensive health insurance — or for that matter, any health insurance at all. Even when they do, premiums can be prohibitively expensive, because small businesses can’t negotiate the discounts given to large group plans.
To help close that gap, the government this year is offering a tax credit to companies with fewer than 25 full-time workers and average wages of less than $50,000 a year. To qualify, employers must pay at least 50 percent of their employees’ health care premiums.
Small businesses with 10 full-time employees or fewer earning an average of $25,000 or less are eligible for the largest credit, 35 percent of their health insurance premium costs. Companies with larger numbers of employees earning more receive smaller credits on a sliding scale.
Not every small shop will qualify for the credits, but a recent study by two advocacy groups, Small Business Majority and Families USA, estimated that 84 percent of small businesses were eligible. (This includes firms that currently offer some type of coverage.)
A simple worksheet on the I.R.S. Web site helps to show whether your firm has the proper number of employees and average salaries to qualify for the new tax credits. The site also has clear explanations of how the credits work.
There is no application process; the business owner simply files one additional form with the company tax return. Start pulling together the figures now, though. The tax credit begins in the 2010 tax year, so the payoff will come as soon as next January ….