If you’re preparing to meet with your tax professional in the coming weeks, here’s a new bullet point to add to your discussion list: Employee Benefits. Most practice owners are looking for more ways to reduce their corporate tax liability, and benefits can help. When a company subsidizes or provides a benefit to the staff, it is a business expense that can be tax-deductible.
While your CPA will be able to tell you which products will qualify for this tax write-off and any restrictions you need to be aware of, your broker can help you strategically customize those programs to meet your budget and implement them into a comprehensive benefit strategy.
Just a few years ago, it was typical for smaller dental practices to not have a true employee benefits package available to staff. However, the pandemic has brought benefits to the forefront of employees’ minds. For example, 8 in 10 employers are planning to increase the range and/or level of investment in employee benefits because of COVID-19, according to MetLife’s Employee Benefits Trends Study 2021. This study also states that 62% of employees think employee benefits are more important now because of the pandemic.
They’re paying attention.
They’re asking questions.
They’re asking for more.
Suppose you have a small practice where most of your staff gets their health insurance through a spouse. Then perhaps your practice doesn’t have a pressing need to offer medical coverage. However, if you have an entirely female staff, it begs one question: Why not offer a short-term disability plan? Disability covers much more than maternity and is a program the staff would not be able to acquire through a spouse. We know most employees will not be proactive enough to seek out a disability plan independently, whereby they’d pay an individual rate. So, use this to your advantage as an employer, and promote a disability plan as a core part of your benefits strategy. Having a disability policy will help attract top talent when you have an employment opening, and it will help to retain the trained staff you already have.
You have a disability policy on yourself to protect your income from the unforeseen. That is the same reason the staff need and want paycheck protection too. Providing a disability plan gives them the tools and resources they need to care for their own families and assets.
Remember, disability is not something you want to try to ‘self-insure.’ There are too many compliance and discrimination problems with this to list, but it’s still all too common in the industry, when there’s a great solution out there for you. Especially when that solution could also save you tax dollars.
Finally, there are voluntary benefit programs, like Aflac, that can further enhance your benefit strategy without adding to your overhead since they are employee funded. According to The Hartford’s Future Of Benefits Study 2021, a majority of U.S. workers chose voluntary benefits last year, and many employees said these benefits were new selections for them. These bedrock benefits include life, disability, and hospital indemnity or critical illness plans such as accident or cancer policies. You simply provide access to these choices with a pre-taxed payroll slot, which would further reduce your tax liability with any participation. Remember, anything that employees can get working for you that they can’t get working across the street IS an employee benefit.
So, take some of that money that would have gone to Uncle Sam, and use it to invest in your staff. Offering a short and/or long-term disability option, or perhaps a flat life insurance plan, to the staff will go a long way in developing employee morale. You might be pleasantly surprised by how grateful they are for a new benefit added, with or without a pandemic.
For more information, please contact Cynthia Eckhardt, Account Executive, at firstname.lastname@example.org; (410) 752-7216. R.K. Tongue is a VDA Member Perks Endorsed Vendor.