Business

New health insurance options coming for small businesses

The system of health insurance exchanges, created by President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, opens on Oct. 1.  - U.S. House of Representatives
The system of health insurance exchanges, created by President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, opens on Oct. 1.
— image credit: U.S. House of Representatives

By CALVIN GOINGS
U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration is committed to educating small-business owners about the facts surrounding the Affordable Care Act, so that you can make an informed decision about what makes sense for your business — including whether you choose to apply for a tax credit.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, small businesses are benefitting from improved accountability and affordability in the health insurance market. As you prepare for the Small Business Health Options Program Marketplaces to begin open enrollment on Oct. 1, it is important that those small businesses that offer health insurance to their employees remember that you may also be eligible for a tax credit. This can significantly offset the cost of providing insurance, by crediting a percentage of small-business owners’ premium contributions.

Through 2013, to qualify for a small-business tax credit of up to 35 percent (up to 25 percent for non-profits) of your premium contributions, you must meet all of the following criteria:

— Have fewer than 25 full-time-equivalent employees;
— Pay average annual wages of less than $50,000;
— And contribute 50 percent or more toward your employees’ self-only health insurance premiums.

Beginning in January 2014, this tax credit increases to 50 percent (35 percent for non-profits) and will be available to small businesses who meet the criteria listed above and who purchase coverage through the new SHOP Marketplaces (also known as exchanges). This enhanced credit can be claimed for any two consecutive taxable years beginning in 2014 (or beginning in a later year) through the SHOP.

To determine whether your small business or tax exempt organization qualifies for the credit, the Internal Revenue Service offers a helpful step-by-step guide. Go to www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov and search for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit. If you have additional questions about the tax credit, or need assistance completing the necessary forms, call the IRS Business Help Line at 800-829-4933.

Once you’ve determined that you qualify for the credit, your tax professional can help guide you through the necessary steps to claim the credit.

To learn more, go to www.sba.gov/healthcare or contact the Seattle District Office at 206-553-7310.

— Calvin Goings is regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration in Seattle.

 

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