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Hay: Small Businesses Still Need More Help

In the current economy, small businesses are struggling to keep their heads above water. Congress recently passed two major bills that immediately affect small businesses.

[IMGCAP(1)]First, the Small Business and Infrastructure Jobs Tax Act of 2010 will provide assistance and relief to entrepreneurs and small businesses all around the country. Second, the health care reform bill provides some relief for small firms.

The Jobs Tax Act provides small businesses a 100 percent exclusion of capital gains taxes for individual investments in small businesses. Under the package, businesses that hire anyone who has been out of work for at least 60 days would be exempt from paying the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax on a newly hired employee through December. The government would reimburse the Social Security trust fund for the lost revenue. Employers are eligible for an additional $1,000 credit for each new worker remaining on the job for a full year.

The bill will also add an increase in the deduction for start-up expenditures, increasing the limit on the tax deduction for trade or business start-up expenditures from $5,000 to $20,000. This bill will help small businesses grow and aid the job market and also encourage entrepreneurs to start their own small businesses.

The controversial health care bill fortunately provides some relief for small businesses and their employees. Many current small-business employees are uninsured because health care is unaffordable. In 2008, only 49 percent of small businesses with fewer than 10 employees offered any type of health insurance to their employees.

Starting in 2014, small businesses and the self-employed will be able to shop for plans offered through new state-based purchasing pools called exchanges. Through the pooling of small businesses, purchasing cooperatives are expected to offer lower rates as a result of increased group purchasing power and bigger pools of insured customers. Although it’s too early to tell the economic impact on small business, this provision will ease the burden of providing health care for employees by small firms and actually help small business attract new hires with health benefits more comparable to those of larger businesses. This attention to the needs of small business in the bill is largely unknown or appreciated by most small businesses.

More needs to be done to assist small, job-creating businesses through this recession. Congress must address as soon as possible access to debt financing for small businesses. Small businesses represent the road map, the guide and the way out of the recession. However, small businesses can’t grow without access to working capital.

The current bank freeze on lending harms the small-business sector more than any other because small businesses do not have the cash reserves to weather storms or pay for growth out of retained surplus or profits.

In order for entrepreneurs and small businesses to grow, lines of credit, loans and other debt financing need to open for our nation’s small-business owners. Access to credit is necessary for our economy to turn the tide. Growth and capital are mutually dependent on one another, and growth can’t take place without access to capital.

In the end, small business is the engine that will lead toward economic revitalization and growth. Small businesses employ half of all private-sector employees and are the backbone of the economy. Congress needs to incentivize banks to increase the pace of lending to small businesses. Only when Main Street is back on track will our economy be moving in the right direction.

Lani Hay is CEO of Lanmark Technology Inc., an information technology services company in Vienna, Va.

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