National Small Business Week: Reflections on Dreams and Nightmares

Each year, the federal government celebrates small business. There are awards, speeches, seminars, and luncheons for the men and women who risk it all to innovate, employ, and serve the U.S. economy. This year’s Small Business Week — May 20-26 — is more of the same.

I think it’s great that we recognize the achievements of select businesses and honor them. However, it seems a little off base for the federal government to be participating in the celebration. More small businesses could be starting and growing were it not for some of the policies of the federal government.

A report from the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council found that small business isn’t happy with Washington. The survey found an intense dissatisfaction with the overall direction of federal policies and what they meant to the economy, with 61% of small business owners saying they not satisfied with economic policies from Washington.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) found that taxes continues to be a top problem for small businesses because of uncertainty and looming hikes as well as the regulatory burden imposed by compliance. Key findings:

  • It costs around 206% more (an estimated $74 per hour) for small businesses to comply with the federal income taxes than for larger companies.
  • If changes in tax law are not made before the end of this year, the nearly $500 billion in new taxes will fall disproportionately on small businesses.
  • Many of the most popular tax breaks for small business have expired or are about to expire.
  • Family-owned businesses are threatened by the prospect of a rising estate tax, which is set to jump from 35% this year to 55% next year.

Getting back to the dream of owning one’s own business? Entrepreneurs want to innovate, hire, and thrive. To do this, they need a climate of certainty about the rules within which they operate. Taxes have to be fixed for the foreseeable future. Regulations have to be eased. Lending policy has to stabilize. Right now, we’re living the nightmare.

What can small business owners do? Congress should not wait until a lame duck session to address tax and other matters. Small business needs certainty now. Make your voice heard.

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