Small business owners seek corporate tax reform

Jim Spencer / Star Tribune (Minneapolis) /

WASHINGTON — The plea arrived from the hinterlands as a letter with 626 signatures of small-business executives, owners and operators.

A coalition of small businesses assembled by three trade groups begged the president and Congress to “make big corporations pay a larger share of taxes” as part of any “grand bargain” to deal with the nation’s fiscal cliff and financial deficit.

The letter specifically urged Congress to stop rewarding big companies “for shifting jobs and investment overseas or disguising U.S. profits as foreign profits” to avoid paying taxes on them. The letter also stressed the need to make sure corporate tax reform produces more federal revenue than current laws.

“When powerful, large U.S. corporations avoid their fair share of taxes, they undermine U.S. competitiveness, contribute to the national debt and shift more of the tax burden to domestic businesses, especially small businesses that create most of the new jobs,” the letter stated.

The deficit negotiations have given millions of small businesses a single rallying point that they once lacked, said Russell Price, a senior economist at Ameriprise Financial.

And, collectively, they have a strong case. “The longevity and strength of the U.S. economy is based on small business and entrepreneurship” in contrast with other big international players such as Germany, France and China, Price said.

“Big business has the lobbying money; they get what they want,” said Kathy Lauwagie, who once ran an accounting firm specializing in small businesses out of her home in Maplewood, Minn. Lauwagie now sells natural pest control products online.

For her, signing the higher-corporate-tax letter “was more of a symbolic gesture” than an expectation. But she believes an important, often-overlooked point had to be made.

“Big business gets tax write-offs that are not available to small businesses,” Lauwagie said.

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