Tax Code Changes a Mixed Bag for Job Creators

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

The 2013-14 General Fund budget signed on June 30th and accompanying Tax Code bill contain many positive provisions for Pennsylvania job creators and residents, but at the same time reflect the consequences of the $47 billion and growing public pension debt.

The new state budget raises the cap on the amount of revenue losses businesses can claim for tax purposes. The $3 million NOL cap increases to $4 million in 2014 and $5 million in 2015.

In addition, the inheritance tax on small family-owned businesses has been eliminated; and the Corporate Loans Tax is slated for repeal in 2014.

However, the budget also contains strengthened expense add-back provisions and slows down, for the fourth time, the elimination of the Capital Stock and Franchise tax; a plan to begin reducing the 9.99 percent Corporate Net Income tax was also not included.

The CSFT was scheduled for elimination on Jan. 1, 2014. The decision to put that elimination on hold came into play when it was determined that more revenue would be needed to fulfill the state’s public pension obligations. The CSFT will now remain on the books through 2016, although the rate will be gradually lowered for each of the next two years. The current 0.89 percent tax rate will decline to 0.67 percent in 2014 and 0.45 percent in 2015. It is expected to generate $58 million next fiscal year, $183 million in 2014-15 and $99 million in 2015-16, according to estimates from the House Appropriations Committee.

Eye Center of Central PA Celebrates New Location

The Eye Center of Central Pennsylvania is celebrating their Bloomsburg location with a ribbon cutting on Wednesday, July 17th at 4:30 p.m. Join the Chamber and the Eye Center for an evening of networking. Refreshments and light fare provided by O’Donnell Winery and Balzano’s.

The Eye Center of Central PA’s mission is to enhance quality of life by improving sight, preventing blindness and advancing ophthalmic knowledge through compassionate patient care and superior customer satisfaction. They are committed to confidentiality, respect, and high-quality care for all patients.

If you are interested in attending this ribbon cutting and networking event please RSVP with The Eye Center of Central PA at (570) 259-3078 or [email protected] by Monday, July 15th.

Thank You to All Involved with Celebrate Berwick

Celebrate Berwick, held this last weekend was a great success with over 30 businesses and 50 vendors participating. Despite the dreary weather the community came out to support this event and we received a great deal of positive feedback.

The Chamber recognized a need to rejuvenate the Berwick area with the help of the Berwick Task Force. After a long stretch of construction hurting many businesses Celebrate Berwick encouraged people to come back to the Berwick area and stimulate the economy.

This event would not be possible without the help of the volunteers that came to the planning meetings, contacted businesses for their support, and assisted the day of the event. A huge thank you as well to all the businesses and vendors that were involved in creating activities along Front Street! Some the businesses that donated their services for this event include Knorr Hauling, AJ limo Coach and Bodnar Sales and Services. Also an immense amount of gratitude for all of the sponsors who supported this event. Without the help of the local businesses and volunteers this event would not have been possible.

Gold Sponsors

  • Berwick Hospital Center
  • Berwick Industrial Development Association
  • Central Susquehanna Community Foundation
  • First Keystone Community Bank
  • Geisinger
  • Jack Williams Tire and Auto Service Center
  • Wise Snacks

Silver Level Sponsors

  • A&A Auto Store
  • First Columbia Bank and Trust

Bronze Level Sponsors

  • Berwick Dental Arts
  • Berwick Offray
  •  Dermatology Centers of NEPA
  • MetroCast Communications
  • Stuccio’s Pizzeria
  • Walker’s Jewelers

Pictures from this event can be found on the Chamber’s Facebook Page.

Health Care Reform to Impact Employers This Year

Insurance Marketplaces to open for enrollment this fall.

This summer, all employers, regardless of size, will have to inform their employees about the Federal Marketplace for purchasing health insurance. Depending upon the size of the business, employers may have to offer coverage to eligible employees or pay a penalty. Most employees not covered by an employer-sponsored plan will have to purchase their own insurance through a marketplace, formerly known as exchanges, or pay a penalty as well.

The implications of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on businesses were outlined by Christopher Fanning, Vice President of Commercial Sales with Geisinger Health Plan, at a Chamber-sponosred seminar held Tuesday morning at the Danville Elks.

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling last June which upheld the Affordable Care Act. Employers with at least 50 FTEs on an average annual basis will have to offer insurance or pay a penalty. Full-time employees are defined as those working 30 or more hours each calendar month. In order to determine the number of full-time equivalents, an employer should total the number of non-full time employee hours per month and divide that number by 120. Add up the total number of full time employees each month for the calendar year and the total number of full time equivalents each month for the calendar year and divide by 12.

Mr. Fanning’s presentation, which includes the formula for determining the size of your group, is available here.

Employers will be able to offer coverage through a traditional insurance broker relationship or through the Federal or private marketplaces. The Federal Marketplace will open in September for viewing and open enrollment will begin in October for a 1/1/14 effective date. Every employer will be required to provide information about the Federal marketplace to employees once the government finalizes model language for the notification, which is expected in late July or August.

Employers that meet the 50 FTE threshold but do not pay for employee coverage will pay a $2,000 penalty annually for the number of full-time employees minus the first thirty. The employer must provide at least 60% coverage and not require the employee to contribute more than 9-1/2% of their annual wages for coverage.

Small groups  (2-50) will be able to able to access a Small Business Health Options Program as part of the Marketplace. In 2016, the SHOP will be expanded to businesses with up to 100 FTEs. Small group employers will be able to apply for tax credits of up to 50% of the price of the premiums.

Most individuals not covered by employers will be required to have coverage through a private or the Federal Marketplace. The penalty for not purchasing insurance will be 1% of annual wages or $95 annually, whichever is greater. Individuals will be eligible for a subsidy on a sliding scale if their annual wages are up to 400% of the poverty level.

Private health insurance providers have just submitted plans and rates to the Federal government for review. Qualified health plans must include essential health benefits. Coverage will be gauranteed issue with pre-existing conditions covered. Premium adjustments for medical conditions are not allowed but there will also not be credits for younger, healthier individuals. Rates can be adjusted based on geographic region within the state, family size and regular tobacco use. Providers such as GHP will be able to discuss rates for these plans once approved in the next couple of months.

Fanning noted that for businesses that currently provide insurance, the changes take effect upon your next renewal date in 2014. Businesses with a renewal early in the year are considering renewals in late 2013 and should contact their broker to discuss the pros and cons. With more details becoming available and deadlines for implementation approaching, the Chamber will continue working with Geisinger Health Plan to provide relevant information on Health Care Reform to members of all sizes throughout this year.

Route 11 Reconstruction Project Update

The contractor working on Route 11 through Berwick plans to continue the reconstruction of a portion of Front Street through the business district next week.

On Monday, April 29, Barletta Materials and Construction, Inc. will switch lanes and begin excavating the right lane of Front Street from near Dunkin Donuts to Market Street, place sub-base material, and place two of the three new layers of blacktop. This phase is expected to be completed by Wednesday, May 8, weather permitting.

The third and final layer of blacktop will be placed after the Celebrate Berwick Festival, which is scheduled for Saturday, May 11.

Motorists are reminded that there will be no parking on either side of Front Street while this work is being completed but the sidewalks and businesses will remain open. One lane of traffic will be maintained throughout the work.

There will be several days where Mulberry Street will be closed while the excavation and paving work are completed.