What Can Congress Accomplish in 13 Workdays?


What Can Congress Accomplish in 13 Workdays?

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By Kristie L. Arslan

In the 63 days between Labor Day and Election Day, Congress will spend 13 days in session working in Washington, D.C.—a relaxed work schedule by any measure.

And what will Congress accomplish in those 13 days? If past experience is any guide, they’ll likely spend those working days making floor speeches, naming post offices and playing political games, instead of passing meaningful policy improvements.

Alternatively, Congress could use those 13 days in a significant way and address the legislative needs of the 22 million Americans who are self-employed. In the 63 calendar days between Labor Day and Election Day, the self-employed will continue their rigorous work schedule. They’ll add $165 billion to the U.S. economy and will work almost 8 billion person-hours in that time.

Sydni Craig-Hart, who owns Smart Simple Marketing based in Emeryville, Calif., knows the number of hours that go into running your own business. She works seven days a week with one other employee in her home-based marketing consulting firm, which focuses on helping other self-employed business owners succeed. Over the next two months, while Congress is dragging its feet on the issues that are important to small-business owners, Sydni will work to grow her business. She’ll likely add about 15 new clients. In 63 days, Sydni will generate $80,000 in revenue and complete more than 360 hours of meaningful work.

Doesn’t Congress owe her the same level of output?

It’s time for Congress to get serious about helping America’s smallest businesses. On behalf Sydni and the 22 million other self-employed job creators in America, I’m asking Congress to use their 13 workdays wisely. Here’s my to-do list for our legislators:

1.  Pass legislation to make a full deduction of health insurance premiums for the self-employed permanent.
This fix will ensure that self-employed Americans like Sydni will no longer pay annually, on average, nearly $1,800 more in taxes than other business owners. The NASE has repeatedly called on the House to schedule a hearing around the Small Business Tax Relief Act, which directly addresses this issue. But so far, they’ve not found the time to schedule it.

2.  Address the scheduled individual tax rate increase before the election. America’s self-employed cannot afford to have their tax rate increase, as is currently scheduled to happen at the beginning of 2013. Self-employed business owners making between $70,700 and $388,350 will see their tax rate increase by 3 percent under current plans. Self-employed business owners making more than $388,350 will see their tax rate increase more than 4.5 percent.

3.  Pass legislation to make the tax deduction for startup business expenses permanent, instead of letting the provision expire at the end of this year. When provisions expire on a yearly basis, it’s virtually impossible for a business owner to plan for the next year and grow their business.

4.  Pass legislation to simplify the home office deduction for home-based businesses, the working arrangement preferred by many self-employed, by allowing the option of a standard $1,500 deduction for home office expenses.

True legislative reform can make a real impact on America’s smallest businesses, like Sydni’s. Congress has 13 days to do this: Will they take real legislative action or just name more post offices?

Kristie L. Arslan is president and CEO of the NASE and provides critical insight to policymakers on issues affecting our nation’s self-employed. You can contact her at advocacy@NASE.org.

Read this article in PDF form here.

Courtesy of NASE.org