S Corporation Shareholder Health Insurance – 2013 Update

I wrote about about the reporting of health insurance for more than 2% shareholders last November and provided an excerpt from my book on the subject, but for 2013, this issue is even more crucial because of several tax changes.  As a more than 2% S Corporation shareholder, your total health and dental insurance premiums for the year need to reimbursed (if not paid directly) by the corporation and included on your W-2.  If this is not done correctly, you are technically not allowed to claim the self-employed health insurance deduction on your individual tax return, and instead you have to claim the deduction on Schedule A.  This treatment has never been desirable because of limitations on Schedule A, but for 2013 the limitations have been increased.  First, the medical expenses floor has increased to 10% (up from 7.5%), which means you only get a deduction for the amount of expenses that exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income.  Secondly, the itemized deduction phase-out (Pease limitation) is back for 2013 for higher income taxpayers, so even if your medical expenses exceed the 10% floor, you could encounter further limitation.  Overall, the difference between a self-employed health insurance deduction and a very limited deduction on Schedule A can translate to thousands of dollars in taxes for a shareholder, and all because of a minor reporting error.

Here is what you need to do before year-end:

  • Calculate total health and dental insurance premiums for the year for each >2% shareholder (including premiums that will be paid before year-end).
  • Make sure the premiums have been paid or reimbursed by the S Corporation.
  • If amounts were deducted from a >2% shareholder’s wages for a portion of their health or dental insurance, contact your CPA or tax preparer, as adjustments will need to be made.  These deductions should not have been made, so immediate modifications will need to be made to your payroll processing.
  • Contact your payroll processor to have the total 2013 health/dental insurance amount added to your W-2 BEFORE the last pay date in the calendar year.  Also, have them coordinate with your CPA or tax preparer to make sure it is reported correctly.
  • If you self-prepare payroll through QuickBooks, I recommend this resource for recording the insurance amount properly.

I strongly recommend putting this at the top of your to-do list for December, as it can be very costly to amend W-2s and federal and state payroll tax filings after their due dates.

If you are in the Portland metro area and need assistance with this issue, you can reach me at brian@pandgcpa.com or 503.244.8844.

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Self-Employed Health Insurance Deduction Enhanced

When the Small Business Jobs Act (SBJA) came out in late September, I posted about this deduction on Twitter; however, I never had time to post a full summary because of the tax deadline.  Well, the tax deadline is history and it is time to start looking at some of the new tax changes passed this year and get ready to year-end tax planning.

This was my favorite tax change so far this year – especially since I recently joined the ranks of the self-employed – and it basically allows a self-employed individual to get the same type of pre-tax treatment for health insurance that is available to employees under 125 plans.  Under the SBJA, the self-employed health insurance deduction now reduces self-employment tax in addition to ordinary tax.  This is a great extra tax reduction for sole proprietors and active partnership and LLC/LLP owners.

What would this look like?  Let’s take an active member in a profitable LLC that pays family health insurance premiums of $1,200/month.  Under old rules, the total health insurance premiums for the year of $14,400 would be a deduction on the front of the 1040 on line 29; however, this would only be a deduction against ordinary tax.  Under the new rule, the LLC member would save approximately $2,000 in self-employment tax.  This is a great benefit as long as there is net income and some self-employment tax to offset, and it is definitely needed as small business owners usually pay fairly large monthly premiums for health insurance.

Even better – the new tax rule applies to the self-employed taxpayer’s first tax year beginning after December 31, 2009.  This means that when you are doing your year-end tax planning for 2010, you may find that you have an extra tax deduction this time around.

Read more about this deduction and the SBJA

Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

With all the new incentives out there for employers and recent tax law changes, most small business owners are likely feeling a little overwhelmed.  Between the COBRA subsidy, the HIRE act, and the new incentives & changes from the Health Care Reform Act – being an employer has become much more complicated.  In fact, if you are not keeping up on the changes and planning ahead – you could be missing out some credits and incentives that are available to your business.

One of the specific credits from the Health Care Reform Act that requires some current planning in 2010 is the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, which is a 35% tax credit based on premiums paid to cover employees.  As the name suggests, you have to be a small business – one with fewer than 25 full-time employee equivalents (FTEs).  In addition, you have to pay average annual wages below $50,000 per FTE.  Lastly, as the employer, you have to pay health insurance premiums under a “qualifying arrangement”, which in simple terms means you pay a uniform percentage of not less than 50% of the premium cost of coverage for each enrolled employee.

I probably lost many business owners right there; however, after reading the fine print in the law you may find that you qualify after all.  The most important fine print: wages paid to business owners or their family members are not included in calculating the average wages or the number of employees.  This is very good news for corporations as the shareholder wages would have likely made most ineligible for the credit right off the bat.  This could work out well for small, family-owned businesses that provides health insurance and employs a number of non-family employees.

Then we hit the final hurdle – as an employer, do you pay at least 50% of the premium cost of coverage for all your employees?  Even if you do not pay a full 50% or even provide this employee benefit at all, you should at least run the calculation to see what your potential benefit would be.  It may be worth looking into.  Not only do you get a tax credit, but in this economy, such an employee benefit could be given in lieu of pay increases.

To calculate you potential tax credit, check out the calculator at smallbusinessmajority.org.

More detailed information on the tax credit:
IRS Q&A Page on the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit
White House Summary & Fact Sheet