Many small firms did not qualify because they paid fairly decent wages. The GAO report quoted an unidentified tax preparer who explained that "people get excited that they're eligible and then they do the calculations and it's like the bottom just falls out of it and it's not really there." It's almost a bait and switch.
Complexity has been another obstacle. IRS Form 8941, which employers must complete to claim the credit, has 25 lines and seven worksheets, the GAO said. Some tax preparers told the agency it took clients from two to eight hours to pull together supporting information and tax professionals another three to five hours to calculate the credit.
Trying to help, the IRS identified "three simple steps" employers needed to follow, but the GAO found "the three steps become 15 calculations, 11 of which are based on seven worksheets, some of which request multiple columns of information."
Arensmeyer said claiming the credit will be simpler once it becomes standard in tax-preparation software.
If the health care law withstands Supreme Court scrutiny, more employers could start claiming the credit. Even so, time is running short. After 2014, the credit is only available for two years. It may just go down as a missed opportunity, for policymakers and small-business owners alike.
The Government Accountability Office's report: http://tinyurl.com/7ae96hn
(This version CORRECTS the final paragraph to delete erroneous 2016 expiry date.)