Published on
YES! Magazine

The Small Business Case for Ending Tax Cuts for the Wealthy

Small business owners, often used as a prop by anti-tax lobbyists, say letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire is a good business decision.

“Expecting high-end tax cuts to trickle down as job creation is about as reasonable as pouring gasoline on your hood and expecting it to fuel your car."
–Lew Prince
Owner, Vintage Vinyl, an independent music store

Congress left town in early October without addressing the future of the Bush-era tax cuts that are scheduled to expire at the end of 2010. This sets up a “lame duck” session debate over their future in November and December.

After the mid-term election, anti-tax legislators will press to extend tax cuts for households with incomes over $250,000. Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist argues that allowing these tax cuts for higher incomes to expire would be a “body blow to the small business community.”

This isn’t the first time small businesses have been used as a prop by anti-tax lobbyists. Whenever policies that would require wealthy individuals to pay higher taxes is debated, supporters routinely claim that it will hurt small business.

Enter several refreshing new voices in this debate: the American Sustainable Business Council and Business for Shared Prosperity, networks of enterprises rooted in their localities. In their recent report, “Restoring Top Tax Rates Makes Sense for Small Business,” they make a business case for allowing the top tax rates to expire.

These business organizations point out that very few small businesses are affected. Less than 3 percent of tax filers with any business income earn enough ($200,000 as individuals or $250,000 as couples in a year) to be affected—and many of those that do are Wall Street investment partners, big business CEOs paid to sit on boards of other big companies, and wealthy folks renting out investment properties and vacation homes.

If Congress wants to help small business, the small business owners argue, it shouldn’t spend $700 billion over the next decade in poorly targeted tax cuts.

“Letting high end tax cuts expire is a good business decision,” said Frank Knapp, CEO and President of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce. “Boosting our local economy by helping real small businesses create jobs should be our goal. We can either cut taxes for CEOs and Wall Street traders, or we can invest the money to generate more customers for small business by keeping teachers, police officers, and other Americans on the job rebuilding the crumbling transportation, water, and energy infrastructure small business depends on.”

This longer view is echoed by other small business leaders who lament the decline in public infrastructure and investment that strengthens local economies. They challenge the tired orthodoxy that cutting taxes for high-income households always has a positive impact on economic growth and job creation.

These small business owners insist that their hiring decisions are driven by consumer demand, not tax cuts. “As a fellow businessman once told me,” said Rick Poore, owner of Design Wear, an apparel manufacturer based in Lincoln, Nebraska, “Give me more customers and I’ll be forced to buy equipment and hire people to meet demand. Give me a tax break without more customers and I’ll just go to Aruba.”

Restoring tax rates for high-income households won’t fix our economy. But it is a step in the right direction to fiscal sanity and being able to make investments that move us toward a sustainable economy. That’s good for businesses that are committed to their communities.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do.

Chuck Collins

Chuck Collins

Chuck Collins is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies where he co-edits, and is author of the new book, Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good.  He is cofounder of Wealth for the Common Good, recently merged with the Patriotic Millionaires. He is co-author of 99 to 1: The Moral Measure of the Economy and, with Bill Gates Sr., of Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes.

Share This Article

More in: