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June 22, 2010

National tree planting program would provide an economic impact of $741 million
Trees mean jobs and a much-needed boost in a struggling economy. The reauthorization of a national tree-planting program would generate an estimated economic impact of $741 million during the next five years according to a recent study. The report was released in mid-May by Alan Hodges of the University of Florida, and Charles Hall and Marco Palma at Texas A&M University.
 
The program would create a total employment impact of more than 6,000 jobs during those five years, generating more than $87 million in revenue for federal, state and local governments at a time when municipal greening budgets continue to be cut.

The Small Business Environmental Stewardship Assistance Act (SBESA) is currently being considered in both chambers of the U.S. Congress.
 
The SBESA Act reauthorizes the SBA National Tree Planting Program at $50 million annually between fiscal years 2011 and 2015. The money supports planting trees throughout public areas. This program also requires a 25 percent match for any grant under the program, including in-kind contributions such as the cost or value of providing care and maintenance for a period of three years after planting. This match ensures that both private and community investments are made for the installation and care of trees funded by this program. Between 1991 and 1994, more than 18,000 green industry firms were employed to plant more than 23 million trees across the country through the SBA program.
 
ANLA has launched a new Web-based, grassroots campaign in support of the SBESA Act. The full report, as well as more information on H.R. 4509 and S. 3279, can be found at www.treesmeanjobs.com.



Small businesses eligible for health insurance tax credit
As part of the national health care reform, small businesses can apply for tax credits on money spent this year on health insurance for their employees. The credit is available to small employers who pay at least half the cost of single coverage for their employees in 2010.
 
The credit, which takes effect this year, is designed to encourage small employers to offer health insurance coverage for the first time or maintain coverage they already have.
 
“We want to make sure small employers across the nation realize that – effective this tax year – they may be eligible for a valuable new tax credit,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “We urge every small employer to take advantage of this credit if they qualify.”
 
The credit is specifically targeted to help small businesses and tax-exempt organizations that primarily employ low- and moderate-income workers.

For tax years 2010 to 2013, the maximum credit is 35 percent of premiums paid by eligible small business employers and 25 percent of premiums paid by eligible employers that are tax-exempt organizations. The maximum credit goes to smaller employers – those with 10 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees – paying annual average wages of $25,000 or less.
 
Because the eligibility rules are based in part on the number of FTEs, not the number of employees, businesses that use part-time help may qualify even if they employ more than 25 individuals. The credit is completely phased out for employers that have 25 FTEs or more or that pay average wages of $50,000 per year or more.
 
Eligible small businesses can claim the credit as part of the general business credit starting with the 2010 income tax return they file in 2011.  
 
For more: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-utl/3_simple_steps.pdf