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Washington Watch - May 18, 2011


Congress Introduces Home Office Deduction Simplification Bill

The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) is thrilled to lend support to legislation introduced by Congressmen Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.) which would simplify taxes for millions of small-business owners.

The Home Office Deduction Simplification Act, HR. 1827, would allow home-based businesses to take a standard $1,500 deduction for home office expenses. According to an NASE study, more than half of small businesses are based out of a home office.

"Too many home-based business owners who are eligible for the home office deduction elect not to take it because of the complexity of the form and calculations required,” said Kristie Arslan, Executive Director of the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE). "This means valuable tax refund dollars that could be invested back into the business are left on the table each year. The creation of an optional standard deduction will go a long way in easing the minds of these cautious business owners. The fact that this bill ensures that the standard deduction will be adjusted for inflation also ensures that future businesses will be able to take advantage of this tax benefit for years to come.”

“I’ve built two small businesses from scratch,” said Rep. Schrader. “And I can tell you from experience that the complexity of our tax code hinders business growth. By making it easier for Oregon small businesses to pay their taxes you can encourage them to expand their operations and hire more workers – and job creation is exactly where Congress should be focusing our time right now.”

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy,” said Rep. Kind.  “They are generating two out of every three jobs right now, serve as important anchors in our communities, and are vital to our economic recovery.  It is critical that we help these economic engines by providing the resources and tax credits to make it easier and fruitful to own and maintain a small business during this tough time.  I will continue working to provide the resources our small businesses need to grow, hire, and drive dollars back into our local communities."

The NASE has strongly supported efforts in both the House and Senate to create an optional standard home office deduction. The Association supported a similar House bill which was introduced in Congress by Schrader and Kind in 2009.

Self-Employed To Congress: Address Deficit Now

As the Federal government announces that it has reached the debt ceiling and has shuffled funds to meet the nation’s financial commitments, micro-businesses and the self-employed believe that spending for domestic programs, job creation initiatives, tax cuts and federal subsidies should be scaled back to address the deficit, according to a recent survey by the NASE.

Ninety-three percent of micro-businesses were either moderately or significantly concerned about the federal budget deficit. Seventy-four percent said that the federal budget deficit is a significant problem that needs to be addressed immediately. In a distant second place at 17 percent were respondents who indicated that the federal budget deficit is a significant problem that needs to be addressed after our economy fully recovers.

When asked the best way to reduce the budget deficit, 63 percent of micro-business owners indicated that cutting federal spending was their top priority. Thirty-two percent said both cutting spending and raising taxes were needed.

“Day in and day out, the self-employed are required to manage their budget and balance their books,” commented Kristie Arslan, executive director of the NASE. “It is irresponsible and puts our economy at future risk for our federal government not to do the same.”

The top three proposals for tackling the deficit that micro-business owners favored were:

  • Minimizing Social Security benefits for upper income recipients (65%);
  • Increasing the payroll tax cap on wages (at present individuals only pay Social Security taxes on wages up to $106,800) (60%);
  • Repealing and/or defunding the health care reform law (59%).

Contrary to the larger business population, the self-employed also favored (55%) phasing out the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250,000 as a way to curb costs.

Proposals that were opposed by the self-employed included an increase in the federal gas tax (77%), imposing a national sales tax (69%) and the elimination of all tax deductions and subsidies (61%).

Full survey results are available online here.

National Small Business Week: May 16th-20th

More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). The NASE is teaming up with the SBA for the 10th year in a row to sponsor National Small Business Week 2011.

For nearly fifty years, one week has been set aside annually in order to honor the contributions of the nation’s small business community. The NASE works with the SBA to help increase access to capital and lends our support to federal initiatives that have proven helpful to micro-business growth.

As in the tradition of presidents past, President Barack Obama had this to say in the annual proclamation of National Small Business Week:

“Small businesses embody the promise of America: that if you have a good idea and are willing to work hard enough, you can succeed in our country. This week, we honor and celebrate the individuals whose inspiration and efforts keep America strong.”

"The economic importance of micro-businesses and the self-employed is worthy of acknowledgement every day,” said Robert Hughes, NASE president. “However, National Small Business Week offers a formal opportunity to join in recognizing the contribution of the largest business type in the nation – self-employed firms."

For information on Small Business Week, please visit

Quick Look: Medical Liability Overhaul Endorsed by House Energy and Commerce

The House Energy and Commerce Committee recently approved a proposal to reform the medical liability system. This comes as part of the Republican effort to repeal the health care law passed in early 2010.

The legislation would cap awards on certain malpractice suits, limit attorneys’ fees and create a deadline for filing a health lawsuit (statute of limitations).

Likely to pass a Republican-controlled House, the measure faces criticism in the Senate and is also likely to receive no support from the White House. In place of the caps, President Obama has proposed offering $250 million in grants for states to set up their own malpractice laws.

Extension Filed For Yet-Passed Small Biz Research And Tech Programs

United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, filed a one-year extension of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technical Transfer (STTR) programs. After five weeks on the floor, the Federal government’s two largest research and development programs for small businesses have failed to pass a crucial vote. Long-term reauthorization is now stuck, and the current extension of these programs is set to expire on May 31, 2011.

“After years of negotiations, and with so much support from my colleagues and the small business community, it is extremely unfortunate that we are right back where we started. To ensure that the SBIR and STTR programs do not end completely, I am filing a one-year, clean extension. There are too many businesses across the country with great ideas that are working with our government to develop technologies to improve national security, better the diagnosis, treatment and cure of diseases and move us closer towards energy independence and efficiency that would be left in the dark if these programs were to stop. We’d lose so much good technology and important investments. To avoid that, it is necessary to make sure the programs don’t shut down or slow down. I hope that we can provide, if only for one year, some sense of certainty for the businesses that partner with the government, and I urge my colleagues to support its continuation.”

The SBIR and STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011, S. 493, passed out of the Committee on March 9, 2011 by a nearly unanimous vote of 18-1. When the Senate held a cloture vote to end debate on S.493 the motion failed by a vote of 52-44.

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