26 CFR § 1.45R-3 - Calculating the credit.

§ 1.45R-3 Calculating the credit.

(a) In general. The tax credit available to an eligible small employer equals 50 percent of the eligible small employer's premium payments made on behalf of its employees under a qualifying arrangement, or in the case of a tax-exempt eligible small employer, 35 percent of the employer's premium payments made on behalf of its employees under a qualifying arrangement. The employer's tax credit is subject to the following adjustments and limitations:

(1) The average premium limitation for the small group market in the rating area in which the employee enrolls for coverage, described in paragraph (b) of this section;

(2) The credit phaseout described in paragraph (c) of this section;

(3) The net premium payment limitation in the case of State credits or subsidies described in paragraph (d) of this section;

(4) The payroll tax limitation for a tax-exempt eligible small employer described in paragraph (e) of this section;

(5) The two-consecutive-taxable year-credit period limitation, described in paragraph (f) of this section;

(6) The rules with respect to the premium payments taken into account, described in paragraph (g) of this section;

(7) The rules with respect to credits applicable to trusts, estates, regulated investment companies, real estate investment trusts and cooperatives described in paragraph (h) of this section; and

(8) The transition relief for 2014 described in paragraph (i) of this section.

(b) Average premium limitation -

(1) In general. The amount of an eligible small employer's premium payments that is taken into account in calculating the credit is limited to the premium payments the employer would have made under the same arrangement if the average premium for the small group market in the rating area in which the employee enrolls for coverage were substituted for the actual premium.

(2) Examples. The following examples illustrate the provisions of paragraph (b)(1) of this section:

Example 1.
Comparing premium payments to average premium for small group market.
(i) Facts. An eligible small employer (Employer) offers a health insurance plan with employee-only and SHOP dependent coverage through a small business options program (SHOP) Exchange. Employer has 9 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) with average annual wages of $23,000 per FTE. All 9 employees are employees as defined under § 1.45R-1(a)(5). Six employees are enrolled in employee-only coverage and 5 of these 6 employees have also enrolled either one child or one spouse in SHOP dependent coverage. Employer pays 50% of the premiums for all employees enrolled in employee-only coverage and 50% of the premiums for all employees who enrolled family members in SHOP dependent coverage (and the employee is responsible for the remainder in each case). The premiums are $4,000 a year for employee-only coverage and $3,000 a year for each individual enrolled in SHOP dependent coverage. The average premium for the small group market in Employer's rating area is $5,000 for employee-only coverage and $4,000 for each individual enrolled in SHOP dependent coverage. Employer's premium payments for each FTE ($2,000 for employee-only coverage and $1,500 for SHOP dependent coverage) do not exceed 50 percent of the average premium for the small group market in Employer's rating area ($2,500 for employee-only coverage and $2,000 for each individual enrolled in SHOP dependent coverage).

(ii) Conclusion. The amount of premiums paid by Employer for purposes of computing the credit equals $19,500 ((6 × $2,000) plus (5 × $1,500)).

Example 2.
Premium payments exceeding average premium for small group market.
(i) Facts. Same facts as Example 1, except that the premiums are $6,000 for employee-only coverage and $5,000 for each dependent enrolled in coverage. Employer's premium payments for each employee ($3,000 for employee-only coverage and $2,500 for SHOP dependent coverage) exceed 50% of the average premium for the small group market in Employer's rating area ($2,500 for self-only coverage and $2,000 for family coverage).

(ii) Conclusion. The amount of premiums paid by Employer for purposes of computing the credit equals $25,000 ((6 × $2,500) plus (5 × $2,000)).

(c) Credit phaseout -

(1) In general. The tax credit is subject to a reduction (but not reduced below zero) if the employer's FTEs exceed 10 or average annual FTE wages exceed $25,000. If the number of FTEs exceeds 10, the reduction is determined by multiplying the otherwise applicable credit amount by a fraction, the numerator of which is the number of FTEs in excess of 10 and the denominator of which is 15. If average annual FTE wages exceed $25,000, the reduction is determined by multiplying the otherwise applicable credit amount by a fraction, the numerator of which is the amount by which average annual FTE wages exceed $25,000 and the denominator of which is $25,000. In both cases, the result of the calculation is subtracted from the otherwise applicable credit to determine the credit to which the employer is entitled. For an employer with both more than 10 FTEs and average annual FTE wages exceeding $25,000, the total reduction is the sum of the two reductions.

(2) $25,000 dollar amount adjusted for inflation. For taxable years beginning in a calendar year after 2013, each reference to “$25,000” in paragraph (c)(1) of this section is replaced with a dollar amount equal to $25,000 multiplied by the cost-of-living adjustment under section 1(f)(3) for the calendar year, determined by substituting “calendar year 2012” for “calendar year 1992” in section 1(f)(3)(B).

(3) Examples. The following examples illustrate the provisions of paragraph (c) this section. For purposes of these examples, no employer is a tax-exempt organization and no other adjustments or limitations on the credit apply other than those adjustments and limitations explicitly set forth in the example.

Example 1.
Calculating the maximum credit for an eligible small employer without an applicable credit phaseout.
(i) Facts. An eligible small employer (Employer) has 9 FTEs with average annual wages of $23,000. Employer pays $72,000 in health insurance premiums for those employees (which does not exceed the total average premium for the small group market in the rating area), and otherwise meets the requirements for the credit.

(ii) Conclusion. Employer's credit equals $36,000 (50% × $72,000).

Example 2.
Calculating the credit phaseout if the number of FTEs exceeds 10 or average annual wages exceed $25,000, as adjusted for inflation.
(i) Facts. An eligible small employer (Employer) has 12 FTEs and average annual FTE wages of $30,000 in a year when the amount in paragraph (c)(1) of this section, as adjusted for inflation, is $25,000. Employer pays $96,000 in health insurance premiums for its employees (which does not exceed the average premium for the small group market in the rating area) and otherwise meets the requirements for the credit.

(ii) Conclusion. The initial amount of the credit is determined before any reduction (50% × $96,000) = $48,000. The credit reduction for FTEs in excess of 10 is $6,400 ($48,000 × 2/15). The credit reduction for average annual FTE wages in excess of $25,000 is $9,600 ($48,000 × $5,000/$25,000), resulting in a total credit reduction of $16,000 ($6,400 + $9,600). Employer's total tax credit equals $32,000 ($48,000−$16,000).

(d) State credits and subsidies for health insurance -

(1) Payments to employer. If the employer is entitled to a State tax credit or a premium subsidy that is paid directly to the employer, the premium payment made by the employer is not reduced by the credit or subsidy for purposes of determining whether the employer has satisfied the requirement to pay an amount equal to a uniform percentage (not less than 50 percent) of the premium cost. Also, except as described in paragraph (d)(3) of this section, the maximum amount of the credit is not reduced by reason of a State tax credit or subsidy or by reason of payments by a State directly to an employer.

(2) Payments to issuer. If a State makes payments directly to an insurance company (or another entity licensed under State law to engage in the business of insurance) to pay a portion of the premium for coverage of an employee enrolled for coverage through a SHOP Exchange, the State is treated as making these payments on behalf of the employer for purposes of determining whether the employer has satisfied the requirement to pay an amount equal to a uniform percentage (not less than 50 percent) of the premium cost of coverage. Also, except as described below in paragraph (d)(3) of this section, these premium payments by the State are treated as an employer contribution under this section for purposes of calculating the credit.

(3) Credits may not exceed net premium payment. Regardless of the application of paragraphs (d)(1) and (2) of this section, in no event may the amount of the credit exceed the amount of the employer's net premium payments as defined in § 1.45R-1(a)(11).

(4) Examples. The following examples illustrate the provisions of paragraphs (d)(1) through (3) of this section. For purposes of these examples, each employer is an eligible small employer that is not a tax-exempt organization and the eligible small employer's taxable year and plan year begin during or after 2014. No other adjustments or limitations on the credit apply other than those adjustments and limitations explicitly set forth in the example.

Example 1.
State premium subsidy paid directly to employer.
(i) Facts. The State in which an eligible small employer (Employer) operates provides a health insurance premium subsidy of up to 40% of the health insurance premiums for each eligible employee. The State pays the subsidy directly to Employer. Employer has one employee, Employee D. Employee D's health insurance premiums are $100 per month and are paid as follows: $80 by Employer and $20 by Employee D through salary reductions to a cafeteria plan. The State pays Employer $40 per month as a subsidy for Employer's payment of insurance premiums on behalf of Employee D. Employer is otherwise an eligible small employer that meets the requirements for the credit.

(ii) Conclusion. For purposes of calculating the credit, the amount of premiums paid by the employer is $80 per month (the premium payment by the Employer without regard to the subsidy from the State). The maximum credit is $40 ($80 × 50%).

Example 2.
State premium subsidy paid directly to insurance company.
(i) Facts. The State in which Employer operates provides a health insurance premium subsidy of up to 30% for each eligible employee. Employer has one employee, Employee E. Employee E is enrolled in employee-only coverage through a qualified health plan (QHP) offered by Employer through a SHOP Exchange. Employee E's health insurance premiums are $100 per month and are paid as follows: $50 by Employer; $30 by the State and $20 by the employee. The State pays the $30 per month directly to the insurance company and the insurance company bills Employer for the employer and employee's share, which equal $70 per month. Employer is otherwise an eligible small employer that meets the requirements for the credit.

(ii) Conclusion. For purposes of calculating the amount of the credit, the amount of premiums paid by Employer is $80 per month (the sum of Employer's payment and the State's payment). The maximum credit is $40 ($80 × 50%).

Example 3.
Credit limited by employer's net premium payment.
(i) Facts. The State in which Employer operates provides a health insurance premium subsidy of up to 50% for each eligible employee. Employer has one employee, Employee F. Employee F is enrolled in employee-only coverage under the QHP offered to Employee F by Employer through a SHOP Exchange. Employee F's health insurance premiums are $100 per month and are paid as follows: $20 by Employer; $50 by the State and $30 by Employee F. The State pays the $50 per month directly to the insurance company and the insurance company bills Employer for the employer's and employee's shares, which total $50 per month. The amount of premiums paid by Employer (the sum of Employer's payment and the State's payment) is $70 per month, which is more than 50% of the $100 monthly premium payment. The amount of the premium for calculating the credit is also $70 per month.

(ii) Conclusion. The maximum credit without adjustments or limitations is $35 ($70 × 50%). Employer's net premium payment is $20 (the amount actually paid by Employer excluding the State subsidy). Because the credit may not exceed Employer's net premium payment, the credit is $20 (the lesser of $35 or $20).

(e) Payroll tax limitation for tax-exempt eligible small employers -

(1) In general. For a tax-exempt eligible employer, the amount of the credit claimed cannot exceed the total amount of payroll taxes (as defined in § 1.45R-1(a)(13)) of the employer during the calendar year in which the taxable year begins.

(2) Example. The following example illustrates the provisions of paragraph (e)(1) of this section. For purposes of this example, the eligible small employer's taxable year and plan year begin during or after 2014. No other adjustments or limitations on the credit apply other than those adjustments and limitations explicitly set forth in the example.

Example.
Calculating the maximum credit for a tax-exempt eligible small employer.
(i) Facts. Employer is a tax-exempt eligible small employer that has 10 FTEs with average annual wages of $21,000. Employer pays $80,000 in health insurance premiums for its employees (which does not exceed the average premium for the small group market in the rating area) and otherwise meets the requirements for the credit. The total amount of Employer's payroll taxes equals $30,000.

(ii) Conclusion. The initial amount of the credit is determined before any reduction: (35% × $80,000) = $28,000, and Employer's payroll taxes are $30,000. The total tax credit equals $28,000 (the lesser of $28,000 and $30,000).

(f) Two-consecutive-taxable-year credit period limitation. The credit is available to an eligible small employer, including a tax-exempt eligible small employer, only during that employer's credit period. For a transition rule for 2014, see paragraph (i) of this section. To prevent the avoidance of the two-year limit on the credit period through the use of successor entities, a successor entity and a predecessor entity are treated as the same employer. For this purpose, the rules for identifying successor entities under § 31.3121(a)(1)-1(b) apply. Accordingly, for example, if an eligible small employer claims the credit for the 2014 and 2015 taxable years, that eligible small employer's credit period will have expired so that any successor employer to that eligible small employer will not be able to claim the credit for any subsequent taxable years.

(g) Premium payments by the employer for a taxable year -

(1) In general. Only premiums paid by an eligible small employer or tax-exempt eligible small employer on behalf of each employee enrolled in a QHP or payments paid to the issuer in accordance with paragraph (d)(2) of this section are counted in calculating the credit. If an eligible small employer pays only a portion of the premiums for the coverage provided to employees (with employees paying the rest), only the portion paid by the employer is taken into account. Premiums paid on behalf of seasonal workers may be counted in determining the amount of the credit (even though seasonal worker wages and hours of service are not included in the FTE calculation and average annual FTE wage calculation unless the seasonal worker works for the employer on more than 120 days during the taxable year). Subject to the average premium limitation, premiums paid on behalf of an employee with respect to any individuals who are or may become eligible for coverage under the terms of the plan because of a relationship to the employee (including through family coverage or SHOP dependent coverage) may also be taken into account in determining the amount of the credit. (However, premiums paid for SHOP dependent coverage are not taken into account in determining whether the uniform percentage requirement is met, see § 1.45R-4(b)(5).)

(2) Excluded amounts -

(i) Salary reduction amounts. Any premium paid pursuant to a salary reduction arrangement under a section 125 cafeteria plan is not treated as paid by the employer for purposes of section 45R and these regulations. For this purpose, premiums paid with employer-provided flex credits that employees may elect to receive as cash or other taxable benefits are treated as paid pursuant to a salary reduction arrangement under a section 125 cafeteria plan.

(ii) HSAs, HRAs, and FSAs. Employer contributions to, or amounts made available under, health savings accounts, reimbursement arrangements, and health flexible spending arrangements are not taken into account in determining the premium payments by the employer for a taxable year.

(h) Rules applicable to trusts, estates, regulated investment companies, real estate investment trusts and cooperative organizations. Rules similar to the rules of section 52(d) and (e) and the regulations thereunder apply in calculating and apportioning the credit with respect to a trust, estate, a regulated investment company or real estate investment trusts or cooperative organization.

(i) Transition rule for 2014 -

(1) In general. This paragraph (i) applies if as of August 26, 2013, an eligible small employer offers coverage for a health plan year that begins on a date other than the first day of its taxable year. In such a case, if the eligible small employer has a health plan year beginning after January 1, 2014 but before January 1, 2015 (2014 health plan year) that begins after the start of its first taxable year beginning on or after January 1, 2014 (2014 taxable year), and the employer offers one or more QHPs to its employees through a SHOP Exchange as of the first day of its 2014 health plan year, then the eligible small employer is treated as offering coverage through a SHOP Exchange for its entire 2014 taxable year for purposes of section 45R if the health care coverage provided from the first day of the 2014 taxable year through the day immediately preceding the first day of the 2014 health plan year would have qualified for a credit under section 45R using the rules applicable to taxable years beginning before January 1, 2014. If the eligible small employer claims the section 45R credit in the 2014 taxable year, the 2014 taxable year begins the first year of the credit period.

(2) Example. The following example illustrates the rule of this paragraph (i) of this section. For purposes of this example, it is assumed that the eligible small employer is not a tax-exempt organization and that no other adjustments or limitations on the credit apply other than those adjustments and limitations explicitly set forth in the example.

Example.
(i) Facts. An eligible small employer (Employer) has a 2014 taxable year that begins January 1, 2014 and ends on December 31, 2014. As of August 26, 2013, Employer had a 2014 health plan year that begins July 1, 2014 and ends June 30, 2015. Employer offers a QHP through a SHOP Exchange the coverage under which begins July 1, 2014. Employer also provides other coverage from January 1, 2014 through June 30, 2014 that would have qualified for a credit under section 45R based on the rules applicable to taxable years beginning before 2014.

(ii) Conclusion. Employer may claim the credit at the 50% rate under section 45R for the entire 2014 taxable year using the rules under this paragraph (i) of this section. Accordingly, in calculating the credit, Employer may count premiums paid for the coverage from January 1, 2014 through June 30, 2014, as well as premiums paid for the coverage from July 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014. If Employer claims the credit for the 2014 taxable year, that taxable year is the first year of the credit period.

(j) Effective/applicability date. This section is applicable for periods after 2013. For transition rules relating to certain plan years beginning in 2014, see paragraph (i) of this section.

[T.D. 9672, 79 FR 36646, June 30, 2014]