Carolyn Valenti, CPA, Partner
The new law provides small employers with a tax credit (i.e., a dollar-for-dollar reduction in tax) for contributions to purchase health insurance for their employees. The credit can offset an employer’s regular tax or its alternative minimum tax (AMT) liability.
Small business employers eligible for the credit. To qualify, a business must offer health insurance to its employees as part of their compensation and contribute at least half the total premium cost of a single policy. The business must have no more than 25 full-time equivalent employees (“FTEs”), and the employees must have annual full-time equivalent wages that average no more than $50,000. However, the full amount of the credit is available only to an employer with 10 or fewer FTEs and whose employees have average annual full-time equivalent wages from the employer of less than $25,000.
Years the credit is available. The credit is initially available for any tax year beginning in 2010, 2011, 2012, or 2013. Qualifying health insurance for claiming the credit for this first phase of the credit is health insurance coverage purchased from an insurance company licensed under state law. For tax years beginning after 2013, the credit is only available to an eligible small employer that purchases health insurance coverage for its employees through a state exchange and is only available for two years.
Calculating the amount of the credit. For tax years beginning in 2010, 2011, 2012, or 2013, the credit is generally 35% (50% for tax years beginning after 2013) of the employer’s nonelective contributions toward the employees’ health insurance premiums. The credit phases out as firm-size and average wages increase. Tax-exempt small businesses meeting these requirements are eligible for payroll tax credits of up to 25% for tax years beginning in 2010, 2011, 2012, or 2013 (35% in tax years beginning after 2013) of the employer’s nonelective contributions toward the employees’ health insurance premiums.
Special rules. The employer is entitled to an ordinary and necessary business expense deduction equal to the amount of the employer contribution minus the dollar amount of the credit. For example, if an eligible small employer pays 100% of the cost of its employees’ health insurance coverage and the amount of the tax credit is 50% of that cost (i.e., in tax years beginning after 2013), the employer can claim a deduction for the other 50% of the premium cost.
The IRS website provides specfic formulas to determine how much the tax credit is reduced if the number of FTEs exceeds 10 or average annual wages exceed $25,000. (See question 7 under their Frequently Asked Questions.)
The IRS has provided 3 simple steps to determine if your organization qualifies for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.
Health Care Tax Credit for Small Business
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