Congress must act to permanently stop the HIT
By Sen. Pat Roberts
America's small business community, including farmers and ranchers, consistently says that controlling the rising cost of health care is the number one concern when it comes to maintaining and growing their businesses. Unfortunately, burdensome regulations and taxes, such as the Health Insurance Tax, or "HIT," continue to raise their costs.
The HIT is a largely unknown tax included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that directly raises costs on health insurance plans purchased by small business owners, their employees, and the self-employed. The tax has a particularly hard impact on farmers and ranchers across the country who are often on the hook for purchasing their own health care coverage for themselves, their spouses and their families.
The numbers behind the HIT are alarming, particularly for farmers and ranchers who already operate on thin margins. For the average employee, the HIT has an estimated impact of roughly $500 in higher premiums every year. Over the course of a decade, the HIT tax is expected to take $130 billion dollars out of the pockets of America's small business owners and their families.
That's financing that farmers, ranchers, and small businesses would much rather invest in other areas - such as purchasing additional grain, hiring new farm hands, or upgrading outdated equipment. And the worst part is that the cost of the HIT tax will only increase every year, unless it is repealed.
As Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, I have heard from many members of the American Farm Bureau Federation about the pain this tax will cause. Congress needs to repeal this tax. Last year, we were successful in passing a one-year delay of the tax, thanks in large part to the work of the Stop the HIT Coalition - a non-partisan group representing business owners across diverse industries, including agriculture. This means that for the 2017 calendar tax year the HIT will be temporarily suspended, providing some relief to farmers, ranchers, and small businesses who otherwise would have had to keep paying the tax.
Nonetheless, we need more than a temporary fix. If this tax goes into effect it will impose a tax hike and financial hardship on millions of small businesses and their families. For farmers, ranchers, and countless others - that would mean great financial uncertainty.
I would encourage all of you to reach out to your representatives in Congress to ensure they understand the harmful impact of this tax on farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural businesses.
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) is chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee. He also serves on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Farm Bureau supports two bills that would repeal the HIT: The Jobs and Premium Protection Act (S. 183), introduced by Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and the Jobs and Premium Protection Act (H.R. 928), introduced by Reps. Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).