Small Business Health Care Tax Credit- It Could Be YOURS

By:   Cassius Butts, Regional Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration


Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, small businesses are benefitting from improved accountability and affordability in the health insurance market.  As we prepare for the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplaces to begin open enrollment on October 1, small employers who offer health insurance to their employees need to be aware that you may also be eligible for a tax credit.  This credit can significantly offset the cost of providing insurance by crediting a percentage of small business owners’ premium contributions.


As they do with any law, the U.S. Small Business Administration team is committed to educating small business owners about the facts surrounding the Affordable Care Act so that you can make an informed decision about what makes sense for your business – including whether you choose to apply for a tax credit under the law. 


Here are some important facts and resources to help determine whether small employers like you qualify for a tax credit under the law.


Through 2013, to qualify for a small business tax credit of up to 35 percent (up to 25 percent for non-profits) of your premium contributions, you must have the following criteria:


  • Fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees
  • Pay average annual wages below $50,000
  • Contribute 50 percent or more toward your employees’ self-only health insurance premiums


Beginning in January 2014, this tax credit increases to 50 percent (35 percent for non-profits) and will be available to small businesses that meet the criteria listed above and purchase coverage through the new SHOP Marketplaces (also known as Exchanges).  This enhanced credit can be claimed for any two consecutive taxable years beginning in 2014 (or beginning in a later year) through the SHOP.                                                                                                            

To determine whether your small business or tax exempt organization qualifies for the credit, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers a helpful step-by-step guide, or visit and search for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.  If you have additional questions about the tax credit, or need assistance completing the necessary forms, call the IRS Business Help Line at 1-800-829-4933.


Once you’ve determined that you qualify for the credit, your tax professional can help guide you through the necessary steps to claim the credit which include:


  • Consulting your tax professional. Even if you are a small business employer who did not owe taxes during the year, you may be able to carry the credit back or forward to other tax years.  Also, if you are a tax-exempt employer, you may be eligible for a refundable credit.  Note that this is a federal tax credit.  You may also be eligible for additional health care tax credits from your state.


  • Using IRS Form 8941, Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums, available at, to calculate the credit.  It’s also important to know that eligible small employers can claim the credit and still take a business expense deduction for the remainder of their premium contributions.


The Affordable Care Act allows small employers to offer health coverage in a way that makes sense for their business and works for their bottom line, and the SBA is committed to leveraging our resources and federal partnerships to connect you with the facts and resources you need to understand the law. 


To learn more, visit or visit to find your local SBA District office.