Thursday, September 8, 2011

Small-business health insurance tax credits: key deadlines and tips

If you're a small business that provides health coverage for employees -- or wants to -- a couple of key deadlines for taking advantage of tax credits are coming up soon.

From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
If you have up to 25 employees, pay average annual wages below $50,000, and provide health insurance, you may qualify for a small business tax credit of up to 35% (up to 25% for non-profits) to offset the cost of your insurance. This will bring down the cost of providing insurance.

In order to take advantage of these tax credits, you must file by a certain date. Here are two important tax filing deadlines in coming weeks that you should be aware of:
  • September 15. Corporations that file on a calendar year basis and requested an extension to file to September 15 can calculate the small employer health care credit on Form 8941 and claim it as part of the general business credit on Form 3800, which they would include with their corporate income tax return.
  • October 17. Sole proprietors who file Form 1040 and partners and S-corporation shareholders who report their income on Form 1040 have until October 17 to complete their returns. They would also use Form 8941 to calculate the small employer health care credit and claim it as a general business credit on Form 3800, reflected on line 53 of Form 1040.
Important tips:
  • Even if you've already filed your 2010 taxes, you can still claim the credit. Just file an amended 2010 return.
  • Even if you don't have tax liability this year, you can still benefit, since eligible small businesses can carry back the tax credit five years. (It used to be that you could carry back general business credits like this just one year.)
  • Businesses that couldn't use the credit in 2010 can claim it in future years. 
See the link above for more details and specifics.