Health Care Laws Baffle Businesses; A Seminar on Reform Program's Tax Credits Offered Information

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Byline: KEVIN TURNER

Nationwide, many small business owners are asking the same questions.

Will health care reform benefit me or cost me more? Will I be eligible for a health care tax credit for offering the benefit to my employees?

Small business owners who have 10 or fewer employees who are paid an average of $25,000 a year or less may be eligible for 35 percent of what they contribute to employee premiums, if they pay at least half of employee premiums. That amount is to go up to 50 percent in 2014, according to the Internal Revenue Service website.

A Jacksonville CPA firm wanted its small business clients who may be eligible for the credit to know about it, so the firm invited them to a seminar Thursday to give them more information.

"You pass a 2,300-page bill no one's read, you have to shake it down to what people can understand," said Mark Patrick of Patrick & Robinson CPA at the lunchtime seminar at The Q restaurant in San Marco.

But despite the size of the bill passed this spring, there are holes in the Affordable Care Act that are still being filled in. For example, the IRS form that small business owners will fill out to claim the tax credit for 2010 is in draft form, and the IRS has not yet created instructions for how to use it, he said.

"We don't know how big the ripple's going to be from this rock they [U.S. Congress] dropped in the ocean," Patrick said.

Still, there are plenty of small businesses that could benefit from it. Some small business owners who pay 50 percent of their employee health care premiums and get a refund worth 35 percent will see it makes financial sense, he said. Others may not qualify or find the effort spent on getting the credit could outweigh the benefit derived from it, Patrick said. …