Senate Dems asking tax pros to tout reform law benefit

Senate Democrats are looking for a new ally in their efforts to spread the good word about the healthcare reform law — tax pros.

Citing a poll earlier this month that found less than half of small business know about a tax break available to them under the reform law, leading Senate Democrats in a Friday letter asked major tax preparers to inform small businesses about the credit.

According to the letter, small business with fewer than 25 workers and average wages less than $50,000 are eligible for tax credits for up to 35 percent of health insurance provided to employees. The credit can be worth up to 50 percent in 2014, wrote Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (Mont.), as well as Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Mark Begich (Alaska).

“The credit is designed to encourage small employers to offer health insurance coverage for the first time or maintain coverage they already have. Over 10 years, the tax credit will be worth $40 billion to our nation’s small employers,” the senators wrote to H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt and a handful of tax professional associations. “We feel it is important that we do all we can to ensure that no one overlooks this credit.”

Eighty-three percent of small businesses were eligible for the tax break last year, according to the letter.

However, the letter pointed to a recent survey from the Small Business Majority — a pro-reform group with links to the Democratic Party — which found that just 43 percent of small businesses knew about the credit.