In recent months, Congress has passed a great deal of legislation that could have major effects on your small business. Politics aside, it’s in the best interest of your business to familiarize yourself with the new laws and research any potential benefits that may be available to you. One of the most controversial (and, in recent polls, unpopular) laws to be enacted in 2010 is the Affordable Health Care law, which officially became a part of law on September 23. While the bulk of the act will not come into effect until 2014, there are some parts relevant to small businesses that have taken effect. The first noticeable effect will be tax credits. Businesses with 25 employees or fewer with salaries less than $50,000 may be eligible for tax credits that will pay up to 35 percent of health insurance premiums. Kicking in in 2014, businesses willing to pay 50 percent of health insurance premiums will be eligible to receive the other 50 percent from the federal government.
Also in the works, the Small Business Jobs Act, which, at press time, has cleared the Senate and is awaiting President Obama’s signature. This bill includes the creation of a $30 billion small-business lending fund, run by the Treasury Department, which would provide capital to banks with less than $10 billion in assets. The bill will also provide $1.5 billion in grants to state lending programs that support small businesses. The bill also offers over $12 billion in tax breaks over the next decade, designed to encourage business startups, incentivize investors and motivate small business owners to purchase new equipment. Pending passage of the bill, Section 179 of the tax code will also be expanded. This currently allows businesses to write off up to $250,000 worth of equipment through 2009; the bill extends the benefits through 2011 and increases to $500,000.
So, like it or not, these laws will affect your business, and it’s imperative that you understand how. Visit www.healthcare.gov and www.irs.gov to read the fine print and learn more about qualifying for incentives targeted at small businesses. And remember, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain, so head to the polls in November.