Washington Watch - September 9, 2009

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Washington Watch - September 9, 2009

President Obama To Lay Out Specifics On Health Care Plan

President Barack Obama will address Congress tonight to make his case for health care reform. In what has been deemed by many policymakers as his most important speech to date, the president will be providing specific details as to what he wants in a reform bill. 

During a speech Monday in Ohio, he renewed his support for a public plan option funded and operated by the government by remarking, "I continue to believe that a public option within that basket of insurance choices will help improve quality and bring down costs."

Many elderly adults are skeptical of such a plan and concerned about how it might affect Medicare. The proposed public option would be similar to Medicare and those covered would pay less than if they were to obtain coverage privately.

In addition to winning over the public, President Obama must also rally Congress behind his plan, specifically those who will vote against a bill not containing a public option, as well as those who believe it will be too expensive to implement and maintain.

Political advisors say the president will need to explain his approach to tackling three key areas in order to gain support. Those include the availability of quality, affordable coverage for the uninsured, placing a significant emphasis on wellness efforts in order to help control long-term health costs and slowing down the exponential rate at which health costs have risen in past decades.

Visit WhiteHouse.gov this evening for more information.

Legislative Alert!

Congress returned to Capitol Hill this week after a month-long recess. In addition to health care reform legislation, here are a few other small business issues on the radar:

  1. Increased Information Reporting on Forms 1099 - Under current tax law, a business taxpayer making payments to a service provider of $600 or more for services is required to report those expenses to the IRS. Though President Obama asked that the measure be repealed, lawmakers have viewed it as a revenue raiser for the health care reform effort. A recent House bill (H.R. 3408) included a provision that would require businesses to report all transactions with service-providing vendors. Unfortunately, Senate Finance Chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) introduced a proposal this week that also includes a provision to require businesses to report all transactions.
  2. Independent Contractor Classification - Small businesses have long been confused by vague employee/independent contractor classification methods, since employment and income tax, as well as employee benefits are affected. A new law would require that businesses obtain written determination from the Department of Treasury that the individual (or individuals holding a substantially similar position) was or was not considered an employee before the business can qualify for safe harbor laws. Should an individual be deemed an employee through the examination, the IRS must report that fact to the Department of Labor.
  3. SBA Office Of Advocacy Leadership - President Obama nominated Winslow Sargeant as the next Office of Advocacy Chief Counsel. He has been confirmed by the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship and is expected to be approved by the full Senate this month.

Recovery Tax Credits On YouTube And iTunes, Says IRS

The Internal Revenue Service today announced the availability of video and audio products to help taxpayers take full advantage of the 2009 tax provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The IRS has launched a YouTube video site and an iTunes podcast site to better serve taxpayers.

People can visit the video site at www.youtube.com/irsvideos to view information about the Recovery, tax tips and how-to videos. These videos will be in English, Spanish, American Sign Language and other languages.

The YouTube focus will be on the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Videos will highlight the $8,000 first-time homebuyer’s credit for those who purchase a house this year, the sales or excise tax deduction on new car purchases and the expanded credits for education and energy conservation.

The IRS YouTube channel will debut with seven Recovery videos in English and ASL and eight in Spanish. Also, included will be a video on using the IRS Withholding Calculator. Many workers received the Making Work Pay tax credit in April through their tax withholding at work. However, people who have more than one job or working spouses should especially check their withholding to ensure neither too much nor too little is being withheld. People can use the calculator to help determine if they should make adjustments.

People can visit the audio site at iTunes to listen to IRS podcasts about ARRA tax credits. People without an iTunes account can hear those same podcasts, in English and Spanish, on IRS.gov’s Multimedia Center. 

 Small Biz Health Care Roundup

Here's a sampling of this week's top health care reform articles in relation to small businesses:

Are You A Florida Small Business Owner?

This fall, small-business owners in the Orlando-area will have a great opportunity to broaden their skills and network with other entrepreneurs and small business-centered organizations and companies. The Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) is hosting “Orlando Small Business Community Day” on Thursday, September 17, at Rosen Shingle Creek Resort.

The event will feature informative workshops, roundtables and a trade show. Participants will have the opportunity to learn from various small-businesses experts, including Rhonda Abrams, a Small Business columnist for USA Today, and Al Lautenslager, an author, consultant, speaker, and business owner. Other workshops will be hosted by trade show vendors.

Visit the ASBDC online for more information and to register for “Orlando Small Business Community Day.”

Lawmakers and media outlets across the country rely on and regularly cite the NASE as a source of small and micro-business expertise. Help the NASE make sure the micro-business perspective is heard by taking this month’s poll.

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