In light of this week’s 48th annual National Small Business Week, which is dedicated to celebrating America’s most hard-working job creators nationwide, we must ask ourselves if the government truly celebrates and supports the success of small businesses year-round. A quick look at the over-regulation and stifling tax complexities imposed on small firms suggests we should take more than one week to focus on the state of our nation’s small businesses.
From my position as a member of Congress and chairman of the House Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access, the message from our hearings, job forums, and constituent letters is loud and clear: overreaching regulations are preventing entrepreneurs from fueling economic growth and creating much-needed jobs.
In order to prevent small businesses from drowning in regulations, Congress passed the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) in 1980. This act mandates that agencies examine the impact of proposed regulations on small businesses and, if found to be significant, to consider less burdensome alternatives. But, the truth is that federal agencies make minimal effort to comply with the spirit of this law, and forge ahead with onerous new rules with hardly a nod to small businessmen and women who are left to comply with and implement new regulations that exhaust their limited resources. In March, I joined my colleagues on the Small Business Committee in holding a hearing to examine the current state of the RFA and begin the process of modernizing the law so that we can reduce the regulatory burdens saddling small businesses today.
I have also heard testimony on the harmful effects of other regulations, ranging from healthcare reform and the 1099 mandate to hobbling energy regulations and tax complexities. Many of our witnesses have the same concerns: agencies have become more focused on exercising regulatory power than allowing firms to succeed.
Business owners are not alone in recognizing the failings of the regulatory system, Speaker John Boehner recently said that the United States has “the most adversarial regulatory system,” and in her recent testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, EPA Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus noted that the EPA does not necessarily take into account job loss as a result of their rulemaking.
Although federal over-regulation has been a growing hurdle for small businesses, the message from our Small Business Committee hearings has been that tax issues are the single most significant set of regulatory burdens for most small firms, and a recent NFIB Research Foundation study found that four of the top ten small business problems were tax related.
Small firms pay 67% more to comply with the tax code than larger firms. Not only does tax complexity weigh especially heavily on small employers, who don’t have the time or resources to hire professional administrators, but over 70% of small businesses file their taxes as “pass-through” entities. In other words, small business owners file their firms’ taxes under their own personal returns. Surprisingly, the current administration wants to increase taxes on individuals earning over $250,000 a year, which would include small business who file their taxes as “pass-through” entities. Any increase in the level of already crippling taxes would make it that much harder for small business owners to make payroll, let alone hire any new employees.
The administration’s anti-business policies are creating a hostile and uncertain environment for our nation’s best job creators. That is why my fellow Small Business Committee members and I have dedicated this week to sitting down with small companies in our districts and listening to what they have to say about the state of their business. Yesterday, I held a listening session in Schaumburg, Illinois, and I will hold three more listening sessions throughout this week in my district in northern Illinois. It’s time small business owners are not only heard but also given an environment in which they can succeed.
The plight of small businesses in Illinois’ 8th District, coupled with entrepreneurs’ deafening cry for relief, begs a very clear conclusion. The government needs to shift its focus from placing unnecessary barriers and checkpoints in the way of small businesses to allowing small businesses to pave the way to innovation, economic growth and job creation.
Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) is the Chairman of the House Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax & Capital Access.