Wonks R Us

Where Public Policy and Small Business Meet

A sisyphian effort

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.

Advertisements

4 responses to “A sisyphian effort

  1. Jonathan Radmacher April 7, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    The first proposal you laid out sounds crazy to me — taxing gross, not net revenue. In other words, no deductions, right? Isn’t that a massive incentive to slash costs to the bone, i.e. fire as many workers as possible, because now not only do you have to pay the employees from revenue, you’re also hit with an income tax on what you’ve paid.

  2. Mark Fitz April 7, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    One exchange does not an organization define itself. The NFIB is pro-business and anti-regulation. This means it is pro-Houston, Texas and anti Portland, Oregon on just about any issue we find as core politically.

    Don’t act surprised because they have an agenda. Thats why its members pay them money. To have an agenda that is anti-planning, anti-union, and anti-tax.

    As for the issue at hand.

    Taxing gross not net income will destroy any business that has expensive products and low margins. Anything dealing with wholesale, distribution, or commodities will get hammered in Oregon if they go this way. Also, independent gas stations and convenience stores will just dump selling gas because it won’t pay. You will have fewer gas stations in Oregon will be the big result of this corporate minimums tax.

  3. Brian Setzler, CPA April 7, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Just like Mark said, NFIB is pro-business, anti-regulation, anti-progress. They pimp a couple issues that tend to get conservative business owners active.

    I think they wanted your money more than your ideas.

  4. Eva Schweber April 7, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Brian-you would have thought they wanted our money, but she didn’t ask. Maybe she knew it was a lost cause?

    I was aware of her agenda throughout. I have had enough circular arguments around these issues that I was curious to see what would happen if I played it straight. Regardless, the manipulative style she uses really does grate on me. It reinforces our soundbite approach to politics and spreads frightening misinformation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: