Far fewer small employers claimed the health insurance tax credit for small businesses in the health care reform law than were eligible, according to a new government report.

The Small Employer Health Insurance Tax Credit was included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 as a way to help small businesses pay for the cost of health insurance. But the complexities of claiming the credit contributed to a relatively low popularity for the tax credit among both small businesses and their tax preparers. While 170,300 small employers claimed the tax credit in tax year 2010, estimates of the eligible pool by government agencies and small business advocacy groups ranged from 1.4 million to 4 million, according to a report released Monday by the Government Accountability Office. The cost of credits claimed was $468 million.

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