A sisyphian effort
April 7, 2009
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A representative from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has targeted our zip code and is meeting with every business-owner. She asked for our thoughts on taxing gross (rather than net) income for businesses, specifically in reference to HB 2070 and HB 2119. Having not read the legislation, we rescheduled our meeting for yesterday.
Turns out to have been a good move on my part. Both bills address the issue of a corporate minimum tax, not changing the tax basis from net to gross revenues. HB 2070 focuses exclusively on “C” Corporations (the entity structure used least often by small businesses), with an exemption for corporations earning <$100,000. HB 2119 addressed both “C” and “S” Corporations, but with a graduated minimum based on net revenue.
In preparation for our meeting, I printed the 2 bills in question and highlighted the relevant sections for her. Her response was that she is interested in our thoughts on NFIB’s entire lobbying agenda, and she had named those two bills as examples. We then inquired as to what issues are part of NFIB’s legislative agenda. I had already looked on their web site, and found nothing. She explained that she did not know and was only a go-between and offered me NFIB’s lobbyist’s direct number.
Since we couldn’t have an intelligent conversation about NFIB, we asked her what she was hearing from other business owners. Unsurprisingly health care was top of the list. I asked her what options the state legislature was exploring around health insurance affordability. She didn’t know and once again offered NFIB’s lobbyist’s direct number.
As she has targeted our zip code, I asked how NFIB rated our state legislators in regards to small business. She replied that with such a large territory, there is no way she could know anything about our legislators. I explained that all of 97214 shares the same set of legislators.
I found my exchange with NFIB so aggravating because they are asking irrelevant inflammatory questions of small business owners who are already stressed beyond belief. The uncertainly of this economy has left even the most seasoned entrepreneurs unsure of the best survival tactics. Nobody has time to assess the veracity of every piece of information that crosses his/her path, so self-defined experts can easily push their own agendas.
What we all need (small business owners in particular) are short factual bits of information. Twitter would be an ideal platform. 140 characters of information with a link for more detail. There is no shortage of Twitter accounts offering this information on a national level, but none focused on local issues. If I had endless time, I would enjoy providing this service because I think informed decisions are the best type of decisions. But I do not. I am one of those aforementioned over-stressed small business owners who happens to care deeply about civic engagement.