How to take advantage of the new health insurance credit for small businesses

The recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act contains more than $400 billion in revenue raisers and new taxes on employers and individuals. However, there are some significant tax breaks for small businesses contained in the bill, as well.

If a business has fewer than 25 full-time employees with average wages less than $50,000 per year and contributes more than 50 percent of the cost of its employees’ health insurance, the business may be eligible for a new tax credit that was enacted as part of the Healthcare Reform package President Obama recently signed.

Smart Business recently talked with Tasca Russo of Habif, Arogeti & Wynne about credits that businesses can take advantage of now.

What are the criteria for eligibility?

Any business is eligible for the credit as long as it meets the following eligibility requirements:

  • The business cannot have more than 25 full-time employees (defined below).
  • It must have employees earning average annual wages equal to or less than $50,000 (for years 2010 through 2013).
  • It must contribute more than 50 percent of the employees’ health insurance premiums.

Businesses employing more than the 25 people could qualify if some of the total number of employees are part-time. The total number of full-time employees is calculated by taking the total number of hours worked by all employees, both full and part time, and dividing by 2,080.

For example: ABC Company had 12 employees who each had 2,080 hours of service (i.e., 40 hours a week for 52 weeks) and four employees who each had 1,560 hours of service. The total hours of service is:

[(2,080 × 12) + (1,560 × 4)] or (24,960 + 6,240) or 31,200 hours.

This amount (31,200) divided by 2,080 is 15.

ABC Company has 15 full-time employees.

If an employee works more than the annual 2,080 hours during the year, the excess is not taken into account for this calculation. However, any overtime pay for an employee paid hourly is taken into consideration for the average wages paid.

Leased employees are included but seasonal workers are only included if they work more than 120 days during the tax year.

Certain employees such as more than 2 percent shareholders, 5 percent owners, self-employed individuals, partners, sole proprietors and persons related to them are not eligible for the credit and thus not taken into account in determining the total number of full-time employees.