3 steps Congress can take to make 'Small Business Saturday' every day
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As President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines Priest among those police cleared from St. John's Church patio for Trump visit Trump criticizes CNN on split-screen audio of Rose Garden address, protesters clashing with police MORE and the Republican Congress set their agenda for the first 100 days of the administration, perhaps one of the few things all Americans agree on is that strengthening our economy should be at the top of the list. We will need a robust and growing economy if we are to employ a large, healthy workforce to move our country forward.

The economic issues of greatest importance for the American public are also those we hear consistently raised by America’s small business community.

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It’s no secret that we must improve our nation’s health care system so everyone can receive quality health care coverage at an affordable price.

 

Our regulatory system continues to be overly complicated and negatively impacts local and national economies without any oversight.

And our country’s tax system is lopsided and penalizes the little guy just trying to get ahead, while granting large corporations a multitude of loopholes to avoid or greatly reduce their tax liability.

Together, health care, regulatory evaluation, and tax reform are common themes of both the American public and small business community that, if addressed, can collectively go a long way towards strengthening our overall economy.  

Mom and Pop businesses, consisting of mainly the self-employed and micro-businesses (those businesses with nine or less employees), fight everyday to help support middle-class families and employ neighbors on Main Streets all across the country and, in turn, strengthen our national economy.

Representing over 76 percent of small businesses, we are your neighborhood accountants, coffee shop owners and landscapers who have stepped out of the unemployment line and into entrepreneurship.

HEALTHCARE  

Our healthcare system is far from perfect. While well intended, the Affordable Care Act is now unsustainable due to rising premiums and fewer options.

This highlights the need for a system that operates outside of the federal government and embraces free market principles that allow for all Americans to find a health care plan that is flexible and provides the right level of coverage.

The American public and small business community need a health care system that is affordable, flexible and inclusive for all Americans. Now is the time to incentivize health care, not penalize individuals who can’t afford coverage.

The current tax rebate system is simply unfair — many self-employed, small business owners earn a middle-class income and therefore either make too much or not enough to qualify for a subsidy.

Instead of penalizing these middle-class entrepreneurs, we should be incentivizing health care and offer individuals a tax deduction for enrolling in coverage — helping to drive down costs for all insured individuals.

REGULATORY EVALUATION

Our small businesses are also seeking regulatory relief, coupled with an enhanced evaluation process that is put in place before any new regulation is enacted.

Millions of American small businesses are overwhelmed with a burdensome malaise of regulations that unnecessarily impact their budgetary bottom-lines.

Before implementing any new regulations, our policymakers must undertake a realistic evaluation of how current and proposed regulation would affect the American small business community.

The recent Department of Labor Overtime Rule negatively affected many small businesses and hit them right in their pocketbooks.

While lawmakers continue to find a legislative fix, small businesses have to make hard decisions between providing seasonal work opportunities and purchasing vital new equipment.

TAX REFORM

Despite being raised every congressional session, the debate around tax reform has too often offered more lip service rather than delivering on any real action.

Under a Trump administration and Republican Congress, there are real signs that overhauling our tax system may find support.

However, if any new tax reform proposal is to strengthen our economy and sustain a strong and healthy workforce, we must move forward with an approach to tax reform that makes our code fairer and simpler for both small and large businesses alike.

We are resolute in our commitment that individual and corporate tax reform must paired together and efforts to focus solely on corporate tax reform will be at the determinant of the small business community.   

With just a few, small tweaks to the tax code, the majority of the small business community could compete on a level playing field.

Some of these reform include amending the definition of “employee” to cover an owner of a sole proprietorship to take advantage of additional benefits; simplifying the definition of an independent contractor to clarify workers’ statuses; streamlining the deduction process, such as creating a standard business deduction (similar to the highly successful home office deduction) in order to expand as many deductions as possible for business expenses.

Small businesses continue to be hampered by outdated and excessive taxes negatively impacting their businesses and preventing them from growing, expanding and saving.

As the fuel for our economic engine, we stand ready to work with President-elect Trump and the 115th Congress to jumpstart our economy. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work on the hard economic issues that unite all Americans.   

Vlietstra is Vice President of Public Affairs and Government Relations for the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), the nation's leading resource for the self-employed and micro-businesses, bringing a broad range of benefits to help entrepreneurs succeed and to drive the continued growth of this vital segment of the American economy.


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