WASHINGTON (10/22/09)--Small federally and state-chartered credit unions may become eligible to receive small business health care tax credits under S. 1796, America's Healthy Future Act, health care reform legislation recently approved by the Senate Finance Committee. These tax credits are designed to aid small businesses in offsetting the cost of providing health insurance for their employees. For tax-exempt small employers, like credit unions, the tax credits could be used to decrease the amount of payroll taxes the employer pays to the IRS. As originally constructed, the bill did not extend the same tax credits or other assistance to small tax-exempt employers that were offered to small for-profit businesses that provide healthcare insurance to their employees. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Dan Mica, in a letter sent to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking Republican Charles Grassley of Iowa, called for equal benefits for all small employers to provide health care coverage for their employees, saying that “employer parity and basic fairness must prevail and the bill’s incentives should apply to all small employers.” However, CUNA has not taken a position on any other aspects of the health care reform debate, and is not actively engaging in other related issues. Under the amended legislation, the tax credit would be a portion of the healthcare premiums paid by a small employer and would vary according to the number of employees and their average salaries. Full tax credits would be granted to employers with fewer than 10 employees and with average annual salaries of under $20,000, while partial tax credits would be granted to employers with between 10 and 25 employees and with average annual salaries between $20,000 and $40,000. The credits, which would amount to as much as 2 5% for non-profits with employer-paid healthcare premiums, would only be available during the 2011 and 2012 tax years. A maximum credit of 35% of employer health care premiums paid would be granted to tax-exempt employers after 2012 if they participate in the bill's healthcare insurance "state exchanges". While the amended bill offers small nonprofit employers a smaller credit than that offered to for-profit employers, CUNA Senior Legislative Representative John Hildreth said the legislation represents “ a starting point in further discussions on this specific issue with lawmakers in both the House and Senate who are currently writing healthcare reform legislation".