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February 16, 2019

3 Small Business Tax Benefits to Know in 2019

It’s tax season, so it’s a good time to look at some known and lesser-known ways to reduce the tax burden on your business. You may be able to take advantage of one or more of these tax benefits.


Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance

Generally, business owners can deduct most (if not all) of the cost of employee health insurance. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says if an employer pays for accident and health insurance – including an employee’s spouse and dependents – the employer’s payments are not considered wages and are not subject to Social Security, Medicare, and FUTA (Federal Unemployment Tax Act) taxes or federal income tax withholding. This exclusion also applies to qualified Long Term Care Insurance.

Unfortunately, for employees of S (or Subchapter) corporations, which are taxed in much the same way as partnerships, the cost of health insurance benefits must be reported as income if the employee owns more than two percent of the corporation. More information can be found on the IRS “Employee Benefits” web page.

Health Insurance Tax Credit: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows small businesses that provide health benefits for employees to take advantage of a tax credit as long as they contribute at least 50% toward employees’ health premiums.

For most employers, the maximum available tax credit is 50% of the cost of health coverage. Tax-exempt employers are permitted a 35% tax credit.

Generally, the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit is available to employers that:

  • Have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees
  • Pay an average annual wage of less than $50,000
  • Pay at least half of employee health insurance premiums (for employee-only coverage, not family or dependent health coverage)

Employers with fewer than 10 FTE employees with wages averaging less than $25,000 annually are eligible for the maximum tax credit.

To claim the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, you are required to purchase a qualifying health plan through the Small Business Health Options (SHOP) marketplace. In California, that means you have to purchase coverage through Covered California for Small Business. More information is available on the state exchange website.


Paid Leave Tax Credit

One of the added benefits of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is a provision that allows employers to receive a tax credit if they provide 50% or more compensation to employees taking leave in 2018 or 2019 under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

To take advantage of the tax credit, an employer must:

  • Have a written leave policy covering all qualifying employees
  • Provide at least two weeks of annual paid family and medical leave for each full-time qualifying employee and at least a proportionate amount of leave for each part-time qualifying employee (customarily work fewer than 30 hours per week)
  • Provide leave pay of at least 50% of the qualifying employee’s wages

The government offers a 12.5% credit of the cost of the leave benefit to businesses when an employee receives at least 50% of his or her normal wages while on leave. The maximum tax credit is 25% of the benefit’s cost when an employee receives full compensation while on leave.

More information on the paid leave tax credit is available in this article from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).


Qualified Business Income Deduction

Also enacted as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Qualified Business Income Deduction permits taxpayers to deduct up to 20% of qualified business income (QBI) for a business operated as a sole proprietorship or through a partnership, S corporation, trust, or estate. (The deduction is not allowed for C corporations.)

According to the Journal of Accountancy, the deduction is generally available to business owners whose taxable income is below $315,000 for joint returns and $157,500 for other taxpayers. The IRS offers a Q&A on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and the Qualified Business Income Deduction.


Find Out If You Qualify

Your accountant, auditor, or tax advisor can offer you guidance about whether any of these tax benefits might be available to you and your business. Your employee benefits agent can also provide you with information on the tax advantages of providing employee health insurance.


Your Beginner's Guide to Choosing a Small Business Employee Benefits Program

Do you need help choosing the right health benefits for your employees?
This guide can help!