The Senate Ways and Means Committee approved LSB 1223SZ unanimously. (NPS image)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Small Iowa businesses would get a tax break for covering part of their employees’ health insurance under a bill advanced by a Senate committee Tuesday.

The Senate’s Ways and Means committee unanimously approved the bill, LSB 1223SZ, which was formerly known as Senate File 412.

The bill would extend a state tax break to small businesses that already receive a federal tax break for helping cover their employees’ health care costs. The legislation will now move to the full Senate.

“We recognize that smaller employers might need a bigger boost,” said Democratic Sen. Joe Bolkcom, of Iowa City. “It just recognizes that employers that have the most difficulty providing health insurance are those that have the fewest employees.”

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a small business that employs up to 24 people and chooses to cover 50 percent of their employees’ health insurance costs gets a federal income tax credit.

Under LSB 1223SZ, these businesses would get an additional state income tax credit, worth a quarter of their federal savings. Non-profit businesses would also qualify.

For instance, a business that spends $50,000 a year providing health insurance for its employees would get $17,500 back from the federal break, or 35 percent of the amount spent. It would also get an additional $4,375 back from the state, or 25 percent of the federal tax break it received.

Senate Democrats estimate that more than 73,000 businesses could benefit from the legislation. A fiscal analysis by the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency estimates that the credit will cost the state $5.5 million in reduced revenue in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

A spokesman for Gov. Terry Branstad said he would have to review the legislation before taking a position.