How will the credit make a difference for you?
For tax years 2010 through 2013, the maximum credit is 35 percent of premiums paid for small business employers and 25 percent of premiums paid for small tax-exempt employers such as charities.
For tax years beginning in 2014 or later, there are changes to the credit:
- The maximum credit increases to 50 percent of premiums paid for small business employers and 35 percent of premiums paid for small tax-exempt employers.
- To be eligible for the credit, a small employer must pay premiums on behalf of employees enrolled in a qualified health plan offered through a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace or qualify for an exception to this requirement.
- The credit is available to eligible employers for two consecutive taxable years.
Here’s what this means for you. If you pay $50,000 a year toward employees’ health care premiums — and if you qualify for a 15 percent credit, you save… $7,500. If you save $7,500 a year from tax year 2010 through 2013, that’s total savings of $30,000. If, in 2014, you qualify for a slightly larger credit, say 20 percent, your savings go from $7,500 a year to $10,000 a year.
Even if you are a small business employer who did not owe tax during the year, you can carry the credit back or forward to other tax years. Also, since the amount of the health insurance premium payments is more than the total credit, eligible small businesses can still claim a business expense deduction for the premiums in excess of the credit. That’s both a credit and a deduction for employee premium payments.
There is good news for small tax-exempt employers too. The credit is refundable, so even if you have no taxable income, you may be eligible to receive the credit as a refund so long as it does not exceed your income tax withholding and Medicare tax liability. Refund payments issued to small tax-exempt employers claiming the refundable portion of credit are subject to sequestration. For more information on sequestration, click here.
And finally, if you can benefit from the credit this year but forgot to claim it on your tax return, there’s still time to file an amended return. Refund limitations may apply. Generally, a claim for refund must be filed within 3 years from the time the return was filed or 2 years from the time the tax was paid, whichever of such periods expires the later, or if no return was filed by the taxpayer, within 2 years from the time the tax was paid.