Associated Press
By Brian Witte
July 19, 2013

ANNAPOLIS, MD. — The comptroller of Maryland is calling attention to a tax credit available to small businesses to help offset costs relating to the federal health care overhaul.

Comptroller Peter Franchot is participating in a pilot program to see how well mailings to more than 5,000 small businesses in Howard County will raise awareness. The initiative is being paid for with a grant from the Horizon Foundation, a philanthropic group that focuses on health in the county.

Vincent DeMarco, president of the Maryland Health Care for All Coalition, said it’s hoped the pilot program will be replicated across the state.

“We are hopeful that the comptroller’s mailing will significantly increase the number of small business in Howard County who know about and take advantage of the health care tax credits,” DeMarco, whose group has organized the initiative, said.

There are about 66,000 estimated small businesses in Maryland that would qualify, DeMarco said, adding that it’s believed about 5,000 are in Howard County.

Franchot, a Democrat, said it’s important to get as much information as possible to small business owners about options available to them. He said it’s a significant subsidy, with the total amount depending on the number of employees.

“It’s thousands of dollars, but the main thing is to reach out to businesses, many of whom would not know about the program and let them know that they are eligible,” Franchot said.

The value of the credit depends on the number of employees and average wage of a business, the comptroller notes in the mailing. The credit could be worth up to 35 percent of eligible premium expenses for tax years 2010 through 2013. Beginning in tax year 2014, the comptroller said the maximum credit increases to 50 percent of premium expenses, if coverage is purchased through Maryland’s health benefit exchange’s insurance marketplace, which is called Maryland Health Connection.

Small employers that provide health coverage are eligible for the tax credit if they have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees for the tax year, pay less than $50,000 in annual wages for the employees and pay at least 50 percent of the employee-only premium cost.

Franchot has scheduled a news conference at Howard County Community College on Monday with Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and small business owners.

A website is available for small business owners to check what percentage of the tax credit they would most likely qualify to receive, depending on the number of employees they have and their average annual wages. It is .

Last modified: July 22, 2013