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America Outdoors Association

 January 31, 2011

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America Outdoors Association Bulletin

IRS Releases Form to Be Used to File for Health Insurance Tax Credit for Small Businesses and Tax-Exempt Orgs

Obama Administration Supports Repeal of Form 1099 Reporting Provision

House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Announces Oversight Plan

New DOJ Rule Opens Trails to Motorized Use at Accommodations on Private and Public Lands

IRS Releases Form to Be Used to File for Health Insurance Tax Credit for Small Businesses and Tax-Exempt Orgs

On Jan. 13, 2011, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Form 8941 – Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums, found at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8941.pdf. This form will be used by small businesses and tax-exempt organizations to calculate the small business health care tax credit when they file income tax returns later this year.  Instructions for the form are also available on the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/instructions/i8941/ar01.html.

The IRS stated in a press release on Sept. 7, 2010, for tax year 2010, the credit is generally available to small employers that contribute an amount equivalent to at least half the cost of single coverage towards buying health insurance for their employees. The credit is specifically targeted to help small businesses and tax-exempt organizations that primarily employ moderate- and lower-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. Beginning in 2014, the maximum tax credit will go up to 50 percent of premiums paid by eligible small business employers and 35 percent of premiums paid by eligible, tax-exempt organizations for two years.

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.

The credit is completely phased out for employers who have 25 FTEs or more, or who pay average wages of $50,000 per year or more. Because the eligibility rules are based in part on the number of FTEs, and not simply the number of employees, businesses that use part-time help may qualify even if they employ more than 25 individuals.

Additional information including a FAQ and examples of how the credit will apply to employers in different circumstances may be found in an article on the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=223666,00.html.

Obama Administration Supports Repeal of Form 1099 Reporting Provision

This just in from AON Consulting:  Speaking with reporters on a conference call January 18, Karen Mills, Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), stated that the SBA has called for a repeal of the 1099 reporting requirement, which was included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Beginning in 2012, the provision will require businesses to submit Form 1099 information returns to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding payments made to any single vendor that are in excess of $600 a year. Mills stated that the 1099 reporting requirement is too big a burden for small businesses.

As you may know, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the entire Health Care Reform law, which is dead on arrival in the Senate and subject to a veto by the President. 

However, there are some changes that could pass Congress and might be signed into law.  Allowing the purchase of health insurance across state lines, which is now difficult because of the regulatory barrier established by state to state jurisdiction.  This measure would allow trade associations to establish pools for their members and is also expected to increase competition and lower costs. The coverage would still have to meet the mandated requirements of the health care reform law that is on the books unless those mandates are modified.

House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Announces Oversight Plan

Summarized below are some of the areas of oversight the House Resources Committee Chair Doc Hastings (R-WA) announced the oversight agenda for the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forest and Public Lands, which is chaired by Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT).  Not all the items published, such as border security, are listed here.  Only those topics that are likely to impact outfitter operations are listed and for convenience we combined a few to avoid repetition.  Most of wording is straight from the committee.

Budget and Spending Review.  Budget requests for programs under NPS, Forest Service and BLM will be reviewed.  Stimulus spending will also be examined.

Strengthening Core National Park Functions of Stewardship, Visitor Experience, and Maintenance of Park Facilities.  One goal will be to ensure that budget constraints affect only nontraditional park activities.

National Park Management.  Oversight on ways to reduce maintenance backlog and foster and expand wholesome, family enjoyment of the parks.

Forest Health and Wildfires.  Oversight on fire policy, prevention and suppression.

Resources on Forest Service Lands.  Hearings will be held on ways to ensure that appropriate environmental standards are incorporated in the management of Forest Service lands consistent with the need for jobs and diverse recreation activities.

National Forest System Recreation.  Ideas on maintaining open public recreational access without onerous fees.

BLM Forest Service Budget and Planning Rule.  Oversight on ways to strengthen the Forest Service and BLM mission and lessen the diversion of budget and personnel resources into less productive activities.  Oversight of the proposed Forest Service Planning Rule will be conducted.

BLM Wild Lands Proposal and National Landscape Conservation System.  The impact on recreation and jobs of the BLM’s “peremptory administrative actions that create de facto wilderness areas”.

New DOJ Rule Opens Trails to Motorized Use at Accommodations on Private and Public Lands

On March 15, 2011, people with mobility disabilities may use power driven motorized devices on trails at public and private facilities which are open to the public.  Under the ADA Title III “public accommodations” would include trails open to the public at private accommodations or recreation facilities.  Under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title II this DOJ rule also applies to trails on State or local government lands. Federal agency managed lands are not directly covered under the ADA, however this rule sets legal precedents the Federal agencies must watch. So, the Federal agencies are also reviewing their policies, procedures, and the way in which trails on the land base they manage have been assessed.  Read the DOJ Fact Sheet for a more complete understanding of this rule.

What is an "other power-driven mobility device?”  In short an ‘other power-driven mobility device’ is anything with a motor that can be driven, regardless of size or horsepower, if it is driven by a person who has a mobility related disability.

Who is to be allowed to use the other power-driven mobility devices? The DOJ rules say anyone who has a mobility disability. A person using an other power-driven mobility device may be asked to provide a “credible assurance” that the mobility device is required because of the person's disability. That credible assurance can be showing a valid, State-issued, disability parking placard or card, or other State-issued proof of disability, or if the person doesn’t have any of those with them, they may simply say that the other power-driven mobility device is being used for a mobility disability. A person may not be asked if they have a disability or anything about their disability.

What do you need to do for your trail to be ready for March 15th when the DOJ rules on other power-driven mobility devices go into effect?
The DOJ rules require an entity open to the public to make reasonable modifications in its policies, practices, or procedures to allow the use of other power-driven mobility devices by individuals with mobility disabilities, UNLESS: that entity can document that it has completed an assessment of the facility, trail, route, or area, before the person requesting use of the device arrived onsite, and the entity found that class of other power-driven mobility device could not be used in that location due to one or more of the following DOJ assessment factors:

DOJ Assessment Factors:
(a) “The type, size, weight, dimensions, and speed of the device;
(b) The volume of pedestrian traffic (which may vary at different times of the day, week, month, or year);
(c) The design and operational characteristics (e.g., whether its service, program, or activity is conducted indoors, its square footage, the density and placement of stationary devices, and the availability of storage for the device, if requested by the user);
(d) Whether legitimate safety requirements can be established to permit the safe operation of the other power-driven mobility device in the specific facility; and
(e) Whether the use of the other power-driven mobility device creates a substantial risk of serious harm to the immediate environment or natural or cultural resources, or poses a conflict with Federal land management laws and regulations.”

Those are the only factors a public entity or accommodation is to use in determining whether a particular class of other power-driven mobility device may be allowed in a specific location.
If one of those issues prevents the use of a specific class of other power-driven mobility device, that device may be denied use in the section of trail or area where that is an issue.

The rule includes a general "safe harbor" under which elements in covered facilities that were built or altered in compliance with the 1991 Standards or the UFAS would not be required to be brought into compliance with the 2010 Standards until the elements were subject to a planned alteration. Similar safe harbors were adopted for elements associated with the "path of travel" to an altered area.

Janet Zeller, of the USDA Forest Service provided this analysis.

References:  DOJ ADA Technical Assistance for Public Accommodations

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