Workplace wellness tax credit bill headed to Gov. Walker

A bill creating a tax credit for businesses that offer workplace wellness programs has been passed by the Wisconsin State Legislature and is on its way to being signed by Gov. Scott Walker.

Senate Bill 73 / Assembly Bill 78, referred to as the “Healthy Jobs Act,” was unanimously passed by both the Assembly and Senate. An amendment tweaking the legislation, setting a five-year sunset on the credit, was approved on a voice vote in the State Senate on Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said “the bill now goes to the Governor’s office where it is expected to be signed into law.”

According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, “This bill creates an income and franchise tax credit for workplace wellness programs. The amount of the credit is equal to 30 percent of the amount that an employer pays in the taxable year to provide a workplace wellness program to any of the employer’s employees who are employed at a small business in this state. A workplace wellness program is a health or fitness program, as certified by the Department of Health Services, that is provided with health risk assessments.”

Under the bill’s proposal, businesses with 50 or fewer employees that implement a wellness program would be eligible for a grant equal to 30 percent of the cost of implementing the program. 

The Wisconsin Public Health Association (WPHA), Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards (WALHDAB) released a joint statement applauding the bill.

“The members of WPHA and WALHDAB would like to thank the entire Legislature, and particularly the authors of the bill, Sen. Terry Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls) and Rep. John Murtha (R-Baldwin), for recognizing the health value and economic benefits of employee wellness,” said WPHA Public Affairs Committee Chair Kristen Grimes. “The Healthy Jobs Act will not only improve the overall health of the state’s workforce, but it will provide financial benefits to Wisconsin’s small business community.” 

“Rising health care expenses and lost productivity due to employee illness is a concern for all businesses, but small employers typically find it more difficult to absorb these costs,” said WALHDAB Public Affairs Committee Chair Sally Nusslock. “This Healthy Jobs Act provides small employers with resources to invest in wellness programs and ultimately improve the health of their employees and their businesses.”

Fitzgerald said, “I am proud to announce that the Senate has passed bipartisan legislation which provides resources to businesses who take the responsible step to invest in the promotion of a healthy workplace. By implementing these programs, participating businesses not only have the chance to improve the wellbeing and productivity of their workers, but can also curb long term costs associated with chronic disease, reducing the burden on businesses and the state.” 

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