When your S corporation covers or reimburses your more-than-2-percent-shareholder-employee health insurance expenses, it classifies the payments as box 1 W-2 wages but not box 3 or box 5 wages.
When calculating the amount eligible for the Form 1040 self-employed health insurance deduction, you must use your Medicare wages (listed in box 5 of Form W-2) as your “earned income” rather than the amount reported in box 1.
Here are two examples that show you the impact of this rule:
• Ted’s S corporation pays him $0 in cash wages and reimburses him $18,000 for health insurance. His W-2 shows $18,000 as box 1 wages and $0 as box 3 and box 5 wages. Although Ted has $18,000 in taxable wage income from the corporation’s reimbursement of his health insurance, his Form 1040 self-employed health insurance deduction is $0 due to his lack of Medicare wages.
• Janet’s corporation pays her $107,000 in cash wages and reimburses her $22,000 for health insurance. Janet’s W-2 from her S corporation shows box 1 wages of $129,000, box 3 wages of $107,000, and box 5 wages of $107,000. The IRS allows her Form 1040 self-employed health insurance deduction of $22,000 because her Medicare wages exceed the insurance cost.
To avoid unfavorable tax outcomes, ensure that your S corporation reports Medicare wages (box 5) equal to or greater than the health insurance costs paid or reimbursed.
We specialize in helping clients clarify their taxes so they keep more of their money. Many small business owners who come to see us in Fort Worth, TX generally do not understand the tax law enough to explain it to a fifth grader.