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Washington Report: Updates from Capitol Hill

IRS Encourages Small Businesses to Check Out Healthcare Credit

More often than not, receiving something in the mail from the IRS is not good. But for once the agency has some positive news to share and is mailing postcards to small businesses to alert them to a healthcare tax credit they may immediately qualify for.

Small firms that pay at least half the cost of single coverage for their employees this year are eligible for a tax credit specifically created to help businesses and tax-exempt organizations whose employees are primarily low and moderate income workers. For the next three years, the maximum credit will be 35% of premiums paid by small businesses and 25% for the tax-exempts.

The mailing, said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, is intended to encourage small businesses to learn more about the credit and to take advantage of it if they qualify. The postcard can be viewed here.

Small Business Programs Given Three-Month Extension

The Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs and others that fall under the Small Business Investment Act and were set to expire on April 30 have been given a lifeline. The U.S. Senate gave the programs, which were already operating under a temporary extender, a three-month extension this week and the measure will now go to the House for a vote. According to the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, the two chambers are still trying to negotiate “a longer, more comprehensive agreement.”

The SBIR program has generated more than 84,000 patents and millions of jobs and small businesses employ 41% of the nation’s high-tech workers. It is used by eleven federal agencies, including the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation.

“Over the next three months, I encourage the entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers looking for jobs, or waiting for a chance to explore a promising and innovative idea, to apply for research projects through these programs. SBIR and STTR entrepreneurs start businesses, create jobs and account for 25 percent of our nation’s innovators, and we are ready to support them and their businesses,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu, chair of the Senate small business panel.