Massachusetts Small Businesses Could Receive EMAC Hardship Waiver

Date: September 05, 2018

In response to continued pressure from NFIB/MA and other business associations, the Massachusetts Legislature has proposed amending the rules for the Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC) assessment, which has hit small business owners hard. 

As Massachusetts employers were dismayed to find out, the EMAC is a tax penalty imposed on all employers with more than five employees—$77 per employee annually and up to $750 for each nondisabled worker who receives health insurance through MassHealth or who receives subsidized coverage through the Massachusetts Health Connector instead of accepting employer-provided health insurance. 

In a letter to Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, chair of the House Committee on Ways and means, earlier this summer, NFIB/MA, the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, Mass Package Stores Association, and the Massachusetts Food Association wrote: “In many cases, it was only when the employer received their assessment notification that they were made aware of any workers receiving subsidized coverage. The assessment, ranging from small sums to tens of thousands of dollars in fines, served as a shocking surprise for many job creators in your respective districts.” 

As a result, the Legislature amended the state budget by mandating the Department of Labor and Workforce Development develop a hardship waiver for the EMAC assessment for employers experiencing financial hardship because of it. The full details are not yet finalized but will be posted here in the coming weeks for the public to comment on. NFIB MA sent a letter to Governor Baker and Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development, Rosalin Acosta, urging them to complete the hardship waiver process prior to the 3rd quarter EMAC assessments being issued. NFIB/MA also asked small business owners to contact Governor Baker and Secretary Acosta, urging them to speed up the waiver process and to consider an early sunset to the EMAC assessment following reports of a $1.2 billion revenue surplus in Massachusetts. 

In the letter to Governor Baker, NFIB/MA called for a quarterly EMAC assessment cap, a 90-day waiting period, and early sunset of the EMAC tax due to the current revenue surplus. A hardship waiver is a step in the right direction, but the ultimate goal is the permanent end to the burdensome EMAC assessment.


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