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Small businesses: Weigh merits of election-year health promises

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in Human Resources,Small Business Tax

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry unveiled his plan this month to offer small business owners a mix of tax breaks and government help in exchange for lowering health insurance costs for employees.

Kerry's proposal would give small businesses a tax credit covering as much as 50 percent of the cost of coverage to employees with incomes below 300 percent of the poverty level ($45,000 for a family of three, $54,000 for a family of four).

To be eligible, a business would have to pay at least half of the employees' premiums. His plan would also let small firms buy into the same plan that covers members of Congress. For details, visit

President Bush favors a plan to allow small business owners to band together via their trade associations to obtain lower-cost insurance. Congress is debating so-called Association Health Plan legislation this year. The president also favors new tax breaks for small businesses with incomes below $200,000. For details, visit

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