Small business owners: We’re proud to be American businesses and proud to pay our fair share of taxes
**Small Business Owners Available for Comment**Washington, D.C. –– With Tax Season in full swing, business owners and working families across the country are standing together, proud to live, work, and support the United States and their local communities. Small business owners across the country know that their tax dollars go to support the communities that help to make their businesses thrive. Investments in our schools, public infrastructure, safety, and much more depend on everyone paying their fair share of taxes.
Despite relying on American customers and taxpayers for their profitability, many large businesses have recently decided to undertake a so-called “corporate tax inversion,” made possible by a loophole in the tax code that allows American companies to reincorporate in a foreign country when just 20% of its stock is owned outside of the United States.
In response, today over 500 business owners, The Main Street Alliance (MSA), and the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) have pledged to remain in the US, and not abandon their country.
“As a small business owner, I’m grateful for my country and community, they’ve helped my business thrive for over 32 years,” said Jim Houser, owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland, Oregon. “I’m proud to pay my fair share of taxes to help keep my community healthy and strong. My tax dollars help pay for roads and bridges, schools and teachers, and all other public services that my business, and my customers, depend on. Big corporations should do the same and pay their fair share for all the services that helped them build their abundant profits.”
Business owners across the country—and political spectrum—overwhelmingly support closing corporate tax loopholes, like ones that allow for inversions, rather than making more cuts. Small business owners are calling for their Legislatures—and Congress—to close tax loopholes that allow businesses to extract wealth from our communities.
"For us, being a community business means paying our fair share of taxes" , Said Fausto Rodriguez, manager of Woodside Medical Clinic in Jackson Heights, Queens, "Tax inversions are simply an unfair way for larger corporations to take from the communities where they are without giving back. After everything our community here has done for us after 26 years here, it would be inconceivable to betray them by claiming a corporate office overseas."
###The Main Street Alliance is a national network of state-based small business coalitions. MSA and its state affiliates create opportunities for small business owners to speak for themselves on issues that impact their businesses and local economies. www.mainstreetalliance.org
The American Sustainable Business Council and its member organizations represent more than 165,000 businesses nationwide, and more than 300,000 entrepreneurs, executives, managers, and investors. ASBC informs and engages policy makers and the public about the need and opportunities for building a vibrant and sustainable economy. www.asbcouncil.org
Recent Florida election results have relied on three things; turnout, turnout, and turnout. Engaging low propensity voters is essential in carrying the momentum built during the 2012 Presidential election, and achieving progress in areas important to small business owners. Minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, Medicaid expansion, and corporate tax reform are some of the most important reasons that small business owners paid close attention to this election.
The Florida Main Street Alliance focused their efforts engaging existing members by phone and email and reaching out to over 100 new business owners. Shop owners shared their window and counter space to place posters and flyers stating “This small business votes, and we want you to vote too.” Business owners are trusted members of their community and they can reach hundreds of people throughout the day without leaving their shop.
Placing a sign in their window and a flyer on their counter shows that business owners are involved in the elections and understand how the outcome weighs on their business. Some owners took it a step further though, and engaged their customers individually. Like Abraham Gordon, owner of Gordon’s Be Back Fish House. Abraham said, “If one of my customers comes in on Sunday and tells me they haven’t voted I’ll tell them to eat their lunch, and then go to the polls. If they come in Tuesday and they still haven’t voted I’ll tell them to go to the polls. Your lunch will be here when you get back.” Gordon also committed to drive several friends with him to Souls to the Polls on Sunday, the last day of early voting.
Small business owners also have a personal relationship with their employees and can do their part in encouraging their staff to take part in the election. Ricardo McQueen, owner of Food Health and Environmental Safety said, “If any of my employees haven’t voted by Tuesday I’ll call them into my office and we will talk about how important their right to vote is. I don’t care who they vote for, I just want them to exercise their right as an American.” Ricardo is an immigrant from the Bahamas who recently gained citizenship, and the right to vote.
In Orange County, the 2014 election brought out 34,700 more voters than the 2010 midterm election, which shows an 8% increase in voter participation from just four years ago. Main Street businesses helped get the word out and encouraged their customers and employees to vote. Many will stay engaged by hosting member meetings, attending town halls, and writing letters to the editor and articles for publication. Small business owners vote and they will make sure their elected officials have the best interests of small business at heart.
As part of National Small Business Week (June 17-21), small business owners from across the Main Street Alliance network are speaking out on the top issues facing the nation.
Each day during Small Business Week, we're releasing a new "Straight Talk on Main Street" issue fact sheet providing unique small business perspective and analysis, on the following schedule:
- Monday - IMMIGRATION REFORM: Immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship strengthens consumer demand, boosts economy
- Tuesday - TAX FAIRNESS: Ending offshore tax dodging will level playing field for small business
- Wednesday - HEALTH CARE: Small business owners preparing for full implementation of health care reform
- Thursday - ECONOMY-BOOSTING JOBS: Small business engagement critical to growing momentum on Paid Sick Days
- Friday - MONEY IN POLITICS: Small businesses seek greater disclosure of secret political spending by corporations and trade associations
Melanie Collins, a small business leader with the Maine Small Business Coalition, traveled to Washington, DC on October 19 to speak at a press conference outside the headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce challenging the Chamber's secret spending in the 2012 elections. Marking the U.S. Chamber's 100th birthday, Collins joined with organizations representing people across the country to deliver a simple message: The U.S. Chamber doesn't represent small business.
"Secrecy is at the heart of the Chamber's sales pitch," said Collins. "When I want to make my voice heard, I stand up and speak. I use my name. I think the Chamber's big donors should, too."
Collins added, "The most offensive part of all this special interest political spending is that they do it under the name of the small business owner. I call that small business identity theft. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn't speak for small businesses, and they don't speak for me."
The U.S. Chamber has already spent more than $1.3 on outside spending funding political advertisements in Maine's Senate race. Although many local chambers of commerce in Maine distanced themselves from the U.S. Chamber's initial ad buys, the Chamber continues to attack candidates for U.S. Senate in Maine under the guise of speaking for Maine small businesses. A week ago, the Chamber bought another $500,000 in ad time.
"When outside groups and big corporations like Anthem spend money to try to buy elections in Maine, small business owners from all across the state lose out," said Collins.
The U.S. Senate is in the midst of a marathon debate on the DISCLOSE Act, a proposal that would increase transparency in political spending. Unfortunately for small businesses, the bill is being blocked from an up or down vote by a filibuster led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
One of the justifications for blocking the bill is a claim that disclosure requirements for political spending will somehow harm businesses, both large and small. For small businesses, this couldn't be further from the truth.
Secrecy is what harms small businesses, not transparency. In fact, small businesses may be among the most shortchanged constituencies under the current system that allows secret spending to go unchecked. That's for two reasons:
First, because small businesses can't come close to matching the money poured into elections by big corporate actors and wealthy individuals. This means our voices can easily get drowned out in the deluge.
And second, to add insult to injury, big political spenders love to hide their secret spending behind a small business facade given the credibility small business carries as a messenger in the political and policy arenas.
Why else would a political group like Crossroads GPS (co-founded by Karl Rove) give $3.7 million to the National Federation of Independent Business in 2010, only to have NFIB turn around and spend $3.1 million on advertising through Crossroads Media, LLC (the primary media firm for Crossroads GPS)? This is a case of Karl Rove in small business clothing.
And why else would the health insurance industry plow $102.4 million into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to fund its attacks on health care reform in the name of small businesses, at the same time that AHIP members were publicly supporting the concept of health care reform?
Let's call these covert activities what they are: small business identity theft. They're stealing the good name of small business to advance the agenda of big special interests. The current regime of secrecy is aiding and abetting this identity theft.
Secrecy is not a small business value. Let's pass the DISCLOSE Act so small businesses can stop worrying about who's going to steal their identity next and get back to doing what they do best: serving customers, creating jobs, and building strong local economies.
Main Street Alliance affiliates are fighting to make sure new state health insurance exchanges are designed to work in the best interest of small businesses, not insurance companies. As part of these efforts, our affiliate in Idaho launched this video highlighting how insurance interests dominate the committees making decisions about health policy in a classic "fox guarding the henhouse" scenario. Click below to watch the video.
A few days ago, the Main Street Alliance asked small business owners to share what they wanted to hear the President talk about in his upcoming State of the Union address.
We asked: “As a small business owner, what policies would you like to hear the President put forward in the State of the Union Address as part of a vision for supporting small businesses and building an economy that works for the 99 percent in 2012?”
Here are some excerpts from responses we got:
Deborah, owner of a printing and design company in Oregon:
“Help Americans who are having problems with their mortgages – by helping them not lose their homes, they will have more discretionary income to spend and that income can be used to support their local businesses.
“Eliminate tax breaks for large corporations – if they are not keeping their money in the U.S., they should not receive tax breaks.
“And keep on creating jobs – we are a consumer-driven economy and without jobs, Americans do not have money to consume which causes a snowball effect and decreases sales for small businesses.”
Mario, owner of a tax preparation business in Illinois:
“Shine a light on corporate political spending that tilts the playing field against small businesses.”
Bob, owner of a professional training business in Ohio:
“Small and micro businesses do not worry about regulations and taxes. We worry about consumer demand and consumer confidence that promotes business growth. The one percent worry about taxes and regulations so they can play the system to their own advantage.”
Jim, owner of an auto repair shop in Oregon:
“We have so many hard working Americans who can't find jobs. Right here in Portland, many young people are looking for work. They joined the Occupy movement to get some attention for their plight. We have so much work that needs to be done. Teachers need to be rehired, schools and other public buildings need to be upgraded for energy efficiency. And, according to the Wall Street Journal, some of our biggest corporations are hoarding trillions of dollars right now. If they and other wealthy Americans were paying their fair share in taxes, this country would have the money necessary to engage small businesses to hire people into meaningful work, and I would have customers again. When the economy gets back on its feet, then we’ll have the tax revenues needed to pay down our deficit.”
Jose, owner of a real estate agency in Oregon:
“We, small business owners, are an optimistic bunch. We also get right to the point. We need the State of the Union address to set the tone for a great 2012. We do not have a lot of time to complain, as we have to work with the hand we are dealt. The one issue which would bring me more customers and allow me to hire more employees is comprehensive immigration reform. Our housing industry is stalled and motivating a new generation of homebuyers to enter the market will be a big step in the right direction. Our immigration system has to be fixed...let's do it right this time!”
Halcyon, owner of a retail shop in Maine:
“By reducing military spending and ending the wars, we will be able to afford to offer every citizen the basic coverages of health care, increasing job security and mobility, and business formation. We’ll be able to reduce business expenses substantially for Main Street businesses in low population, greying regions of our country – like rural Maine – and make sure fewer of our health care dollars go into the pockets of corporations and more into the delivery of health care.”
Kelly, owner of a custom woodworking business in New Jersey:
“I would like to hear the President talk about 'Real American Companies' and highlight the real contributions they make by employing people here, paying taxes here, and investing here. The President could announce a program to recognize and reward ‘Real American Companies.’ I keep thinking of a heavy machinery company that could build their machines in China, but they don’t. They have kept American jobs – high skill, high paying jobs – here, along with profits and reinvestment, so they should get a business version of the Medal of Freedom.
“This award could include a ‘Presidential Flag’ to be flown outside the corporate headquarters of companies that have won the award. Of course, we could have another award – a corporate turkey award – for companies that cheat on their taxes, move profits and jobs offshore, or manipulate the law in other ways to cheat their employees and the communities that support them.”
Two years ago on January 21, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling in the controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case. In a divided 5-4 decision, the majority ruled that corporations are free to spend unlimited sums of money in our country’s elections.
There’s been plenty of debate about what this ruling means for our elections and for deep-pocketed special interests. But there’s been virtually no attention paid to what it means for small businesses, or what small business owners think about the Citizens United decision. That is, until now…
On January 18, the Main Street Alliance partnered with allies at the American Sustainable Business Council and Small Business Majority to release results relating to Citizens United from an independent poll of 500 small business owners nationwide. The poll asked small business owners whether they thought the Supreme Court’s decision was good or bad for small businesses.
So, what do small business owners think about Citizens United? Turns out, they’re not big fans. In fact, 66 percent of small business owners believe the Citizens United decision is bad for small businesses, compared to only 9 percent who think it’s good. That’s a margin of 7 to 1. Click here to read the report.
Why such strong condemnation of the Supreme Court’s ruling? In the words of Melanie Collins, owner of Melanie’s Home Childcare in Falmouth, Maine and a leader with the Maine Small Business Coalition and Main Street Alliance, “Small business owners aren’t stupid. We know who wins when corporate heavy hitters can spend all the money they want, as secretively as they want, to influence our country’s elections – and it’s not us.”
Collins added, “The Citizens United decision stacked the deck against small businesses. We’ve got to unstack that deck.”
And that’s what the Main Street Alliance is fighting to do, with an “unstack the deck” sign-on statement for small business owners about money in politics and a campaign against “dark money” – that is, contributions to third party groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that can’t be traced back to the source.
Small business owners are uniting against Citizens United.
Two-thirds of American small business owners believe the controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United v. FEC case handed down two years ago on January 21 hurts small companies, according to an independent national survey of 500 small business owners released on January 18 by the Main Street Alliance, the American Sustainable Business Council, and Small Business Majority.
November 10: Small Business Owners Demand Banks, Health Insurers, Oil Companies Come Clean on Dark Money
Small Business Owners to Banks, Insurers, Energy Companies: “How Are You Spending Our Money?”
Washington, DC—Small business owners in the Main Street Alliance network launched the “Business Against Dark Money” campaign today, calling on banks, health insurers, and oil companies to fully disclose their “dark money” spending – dues and contributions to trade associations and other third parties that can then be used for political purposes, often to advance big business interests at the expense of small businesses, without disclosure of the original source.
Click below for letters sent to national banks, health insurers, energy companies, and their trade groups (state level letters are available upon request; email firstname.lastname@example.org).
OIL AND GAS COMPANIES: