As entrepreneurs and small-business owners, we are faced with many challenges: lawsuits, employee theft, losing a big customer, and the struggle to make payroll when funds are tight. We have worked tirelessly and sacrificed time and the financial stability of our families as we strive to make the American Dream a reality. Through it all, we remain proud, resilient and strong, just as many before us have done. The one thing we never imagined, however, is that one day we would be punished for our hard work and success.
[IMGCAP(1)]Today, if you have succeeded in growing your business to more than 50 full-time employees, you will soon be required by law to either buy health insurance for your employees or pay a fine. This $2,000 fine would apply to every full-time employee more than the first 30, who are exempt. For a company that employs 75 full-time employees, this would amount to an annual fine of $90,000. Although less expensive than insurance, this amount remains staggering for a business of any size. Many view this as a deterrent to growth and a job eliminator as many companies will strive to stay under the 50-employee threshold.
What remains even more stunning is that some politicians are trying to sell this as being good for small business. Last week I heard a former governor of Virginia claim the following: “What people must look at are all of the great things this bill does for small businesses; for example, the new tax credit, which will allow businesses to receive money for new hires which may help offset the cost of their health insurance.” Nice try. The “tax credits” he was referring to, and the one Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) calls “a sliding-scale tax credit,” actually amount to very little, if any, dollars to the bottom line of a small business. To receive the full credit, a company must have 10 or fewer employees, hire someone who has been unemployed for at least 60 days, demand that these new hires sign an affidavit stating they have not been employed for 60 days, and pay each new hire less than $25,000 annually. The kicker: These tax credits expire entirely after five years. Although the “tax credit” makes for a good sound bite, its complexity will dilute the benefit to almost all small businesses.
Small business is the backbone of America, accounting for close to three-quarters of all jobs created between 1993 and 2008. Small businesses employ roughly half of all Americans and are vital to our economy — generating state and federal revenue through taxes paid, creating jobs in every community throughout America, donating monies and time to local charities, and perpetuating financial flow from business-to-business transactions.
Clearly, the lack of business experience by most politicians is evident by the many claims of “help” for small businesses in the recently passed health care bill. The only “business” that will surely see growth will be the Internal Revenue Service, with its 16,000 new agents who will be required to enforce the mandates of this bill.
And so here we stand — small business owners and entrepreneurs — braced to overcome this new obstacle to our progress. The American worker and our customers rely on us, along with the many organizations and programs we support. We must focus our thoughts and actions on them and find a path to a prosperous bottom line. It is through this prosperity that the American Dream remains alive and available to all.
Jim Garland is the author of “The Practical Guide to Exceptional Living.”