When small business owners think about the recent health care reform, they may be thinking only of its long-term implications. But the legislation actually provides an immediate tax break for qualified small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Beginning this year, the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” offers a tax credit of up to 35% of employer-paid health care costs. Does your business qualify? The answer lies in a little math.
* First, you must have fewer than 25 full-time employees. Keep in mind that owners and their family members who draw a salary are not counted in the total. Neither are seasonal employees working 120 days or less per year. The term “full-time employee” is actually a bit of a misnomer; the IRS is really counting full-time equivalents, or FTEs. To figure your FTEs, add up the annual hours you paid to non-owner, nonseasonal employees (full-time or part-time) and divide by 2,080. If the result is less than 25, you’re ready to move to the next step.
* Next calculate your employees’ average wages. Just as in the calculation of full-time workers, you don’t count wages paid to owners, family members, or seasonal workers. After subtracting out the above pay, divide the net figure by the number of FTEs above, and if the result is less than $50,000, you are still in the running for the credit.
* To meet requirement number three, your business must cover at least 50% of the cost of employees’ health insurance. For 2010, you need only pay 50% or more of the single coverage premium even if the employee is enrolled in a family plan. Next year this special rule goes away.
From now through the year 2013, the maximum tax credit is 35% of the employer’s share of the premiums. But only businesses with 10 or fewer full-time employees and average wages of $25,000 or less actually get this rate. The percentage drops as the number of employees or the average pay increases. Another little wrinkle: Beginning in 2014, the maximum credit rises to 50%, but the tax break becomes available only to those businesses that purchase their health insurance through a state exchange. And even then, you can only claim the credit for two years.
Nonprofit organizations that meet the same qualifications mentioned above can receive a maximum credit this year of 25%.
If you’re a small business owner, look into this tax perk as soon as possible. For help in running the numbers, just give us a call.