HEALS Act tax credits: What lawmakers are considering

The proposal would expand certain credits, and create new ones

Lawmakers are discussing a variety of proposals to continue providing American households with financial relief options during the coronavirus pandemic, including the creation and expansion of a number of tax credits.

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Stimulus discussions have been ongoing among the Trump administration, Republicans and Democrats, who are attempting to iron out disagreements over items important to each party.

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There is a sense of urgency on Capitol Hill to approve a bill, after expanded unemployment insurance benefits expired at the end of July.

On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Twitter that it is imperative to act “now.”

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Here’s a look at some of the tax credits proposed, along with changes being considered to existing policies:

Employee retention tax credit

The Employee Retention Tax Credit was created by the CARES Act and is designed to incentivize companies to retain employees despite difficult economic conditions that have resulted from the coronavirus outbreak.

Currently, it is a fully refundable tax credit equal to 50 percent of qualified wages – including certain health care costs – paid between March 12 and Jan. 1 2021, up to $5,000 per worker.

The HEALS Act would enhance certain provisions of the credit, including lifting the limit on qualified wages – and increasing the percentage of qualified wages eligible for the credit to 65 percent. The credit would also be made available to more business owners.

Work opportunity tax credit

The work opportunity tax credit is available to employers who hire individuals from certain groups that are considered to face consistent, significant barriers to employment.

This credit would be expanded under the HEALS Act, temporarily, including eligibility for hiring from a new class of workers who are coronavirus-related unemployment beneficiaries.

The maximum credit would be increased to 50 percent of the first $10,000 of qualified first-year wages.

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Safe and healthy workplace tax credit

Lawmakers are looking to create a new tax credit to help business owners pay for health and safety-related needs to keep customers and workers protected.

The tax credit is refundable against payroll taxes for 50 percent of the costs incurred from things like testing, personal protective equipment, enhanced cleaning protocols, etc.

The benefit is limited to $1,000 per employee for a business’s first 500 employees, falling to $750 per employee for the next 500 employees, and $500 for each employee thereafter.

Business meals

The HEALS Act also calls for the temporary allow for the full deduction of business meals, applying to expenses incurred before January.

Under current law, 50 percent of the expenses are deductible – as long as the meals are not “lavish” or “extravagant", and other criteria are met.

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