The Internal Revenue Service is mailing postcards to four million small businesses and tax-exempt organizations to remind them about the recently enacted small-business health care tax credit.

Signed last month by President Barack Obama, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes a credit  – one of the first health care reform provisions to go into effect.

The credit, which takes effect this year, is designed to encourage small employers to offer health insurance coverage for the first time or maintain coverage they already have.

“Our postcard mailing – which is targeted at small employers – is intended to get the attention of small employers and encourage them to find out more,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman.

In general, the credit is available to small-business employers that pay at least half the cost of single coverage for their employees in 2010.

Specifically, the credit is targeted to help small businesses and tax-exempt organizations that primarily employ low- and moderate-income workers.

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For tax-years 2010 to 2013, the maximum credit is 35 percent of premiums paid by eligible small business employers and 25 percent of premiums paid by eligible employers that are tax-exempt organizations. The maximum credit goes to smaller employers – those with 10 or fewer “full-time equivalent” employees, paying annual average wages of $25,000 or less.

The credit is not available for employers that have 25 full-time equivalent employees or more or that pay average wages of $50,000 per year or more.

Because eligibility rules are based in part on the number of FTEs, not the number of employees, businesses that use part-time help may qualify even if they employ more than 25 individuals.

Eligible small businesses can claim the credit as part of the general business credit starting with the 2010 income tax return they file in 2011.

For more information, visit the Internal Revenue Service website.


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