(Originally in a Minnesota Chamber of Commerce newsletter from September 13, 2011)
As Commissioner, it concerns me that small businesses pay, on average, 18 percent more than large businesses to provide health insurance for their employees. That is why I am encouraging you to review whether your business is eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.
If you own a business with less than 25 full-time employees, pay average annual wages below $50,000, and provide health insurance for your employees, you might be one of the 94,900 small businesses in Minnesota eligible for this health insurance tax credit.
The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit provides direct tax relief for small businesses, helping offset the cost of purchasing health coverage for your employees. The tax credit could reduce your health insurance costs by as much as 35 percent depending on average wages and number of full-time workers. It was passed as part of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA).
Now is the time to check. To take advantage of this tax credit, you have to file by a certain date. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), there are two important tax filing deadlines 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.
Additional information about eligibility requirements and calculating the credit can be found on the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit for Small Employers page of www.IRS.gov.
Please contact the Minnesota Department of Commerce with any additional health insurance questions. Our professional staff is a resource for you and your business.
Minnesota Department of Commerce
By Mike Rothman, Commissioner of Commerce
Published on April 26, 2011 in the St. Paul Pioneer Press
Minnesota has always been on the forefront of health care innovation. The state must now seize the opportunity to further advance its health care system by building a health-insurance exchange marketplace. Minnesota needs a solution that makes health care more affordable and gives Minnesotans the ability to make their own health care decisions.
Gov. Mark Dayton and legislators from both parties agree that establishing a "Made in Minnesota" health insurance marketplace is the way to do it. And there are only a few weeks left during this legislative session to work together on legislation for a Minnesota exchange.
The federal Affordable Care Act became law in 2010 and gives states until Jan. 1, 2013, to create the infrastructure for their own health-insurance exchanges, which would be available to consumers beginning in 2014. It is urgent for Minnesota to act now to plan and build this system. Allowing states to create their own exchanges will help meet the unique demands of each state's health care system.
The concept of a health-insurance exchange is simple: provide Minnesotans the information and ability to choose their own affordable, quality health care. That would foster more competition between insurers and health care providers. It would lower premiums and empower Minnesotans to make well-informed choices about their health care. The exchange would also help small businesses provide affordable coverage choices to their workers and streamline enrollment for public programs.
Envision for a moment a consumer-friendly website much like Orbitz.com or Expedia.com where Minnesotans can shop for affordable health coverage that meets their specific needs. Such a website would be part of a new Minnesota health insurance marketplace. Resources would be available to help consumers, including brokers and other entities that can provide one-on-one assistance and help consumers navigate the health care system.
Minnesota has the opportunity to craft its exchange however we see fit, tailoring it to the needs of our state's families, employers, and health care system. If our state does not build its own "Made in Minnesota" exchange, the federal government will do it for us - and we will have lost an opportunity to adopt a nation-leading solution built by Minnesotans, for Minnesotans.
The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota Business Partnership, the Minnesota Council of Health Plans, and the Minnesota Association of Health Underwriters, just to name a few, all agree that legislation for a "Made in Minnesota" exchange should be adopted this year. These organizations are joined by multiple consumer advocacy groups, the state's labor unions, and legislators - creating a unique, bipartisan coalition poised and capable of getting something done this year.
With just one month left before the Legislature adjourns, it is time for all stakeholders to move forward on legislation for a health insurance exchange that is a Minnesota-made solution.