Small business growth is critical to a local economy (Lanny Hildebrandt – March 15, 2019)

I have had the opportunity and privilege of providing income tax preparation, tax planning and IRS representation services to hundreds of small business clients for over more than years. Over those years, I have seen businesses come and go, and have often reflected on what we can do as a community to promote a healthier economic environment for budding entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Why is it important to promote small business and entrepreneurship in our local economy? According to the Oregon Secretary of State: “Small businesses account for 98 percent of Oregon firms, employ over half the state’s workforce and play a vital role in our economy. That’s especially true for rural Oregon, which depends on small business for economic growth.” In other words, if you want more economic development and jobs, you should do those things that encourage new small business start-ups and existing businesses to thrive. When entrepreneurs enter the local market and open a new small business, it stimulates economic growth and creates new jobs. Small business growth is critical to a local economy.

Larry Kudlow, CNBC host, once shared that “Arthur Laffer has taught us, ‘If you tax something, you get less of it.’ That’s why firms are moving offshore in droves. It’s not about being unpatriotic. It’s that it doesn’t pay, after-tax, to invest in the United States.” Hopefully the trend of business and jobs moving out of the USA has been reversed with the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and the lower corporate tax rate of 21 percent.

With the lower corporate tax rate, businesses will start coming back to our local communities. In addition, the new lower marginal tax rates for individuals and the new 20 percent business deduction for all small business owners will leave more money in their pockets to invest, create jobs and expand.

The TCJA was a historical tax cut. Does it help the rich? Yes, but it also helps every other man and woman who pays taxes, as well as their children. The vast majority of our small business clients are hard-working men and women, struggling to make a decent living for their families. As I prepare tax returns this tax season, I am seeing a substantial reduction in tax liability for almost all of our clients. When business owners get to keep an additional $2,000, $5,000 or even $10,000 in their pocket, they do invest in capital equipment, create jobs and expand. Larry Kudlow also stated: “Reduced marginal tax rates on individuals and business fosters growth every time.”

Oregon has notoriously high personal income tax rates. Our state does not have a sales tax; however, the unusually high income tax rates and property tax rates more than make up for the lack of a sales tax. High taxes are a barrier to businesses locating in our Oregon communities. In addition, small business owners in Oregon are subjected to excessive investigations and exorbitant fines and penalties, in addition to the high state taxes on income and property. Meanwhile, our state continues to inhibit the growth of small business by continuing to add new administrative costs. One example is the newly implemented statewide transit tax. The burden is on employers to collect this tax from virtually every employee. It’s only a few extra dollars, right? The administrative cost of this program is prohibitive. Any business that has employees will vouch for the additional work it is to complete the paperwork to collect and transmit this new tax.

I think everyone, regardless of partisan ideology, would like to see less poverty in our local economy. We can help our local economy thrive by promoting small business formation. We can do that by advocating for lower taxes, less expensive licenses and fees, less government red tape and fewer instances of government interference and intrusion. Raising the rate of economic growth by promoting small business is just the ticket to more local citizens and their families rising through the ranks of the middle class and attaining a more comfortable existence. Who doesn’t want the opportunity to have some savings in their bank account? Who wouldn’t want to escape the stress of living paycheck to paycheck?

In order to help our local economy thrive, we must unleash the entrepreneurial spirit in our community. It is that spirit of liberty and freedom and free enterprise and capitalism that has made this country the most prosperous nation in history and the envy of the world.