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Small Business May Have To Wait For Obama’s Campaign Promises
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By Dawn Kraus

Although President Elect Obama campaigned hard on proposed policies that could be economically beneficial to small business owners, these new policies may be put on the back burner while the new President struggles with the financial crisis and the ongoing debate over another stimulus package. Can small business owners hold on while they wait for their turn in line? Will the policies that President Elect Obama is proposing have any significant effect on their businesses?

Obama’s campaign promised to waive the capital gains tax for all start-up businesses, which would apply to both individuals and corporations, and which has traditionally cut into the profits gained from non-inventory assets like real estate or stocks. The capital gains tax affects small business owners the hardest when they are selling their business. Obama is planning on raising the percentage from up to 15 percent to 25 percent for those in the highest tax bracket, while proposing to waive the tax for start-up businesses. Many disagree as to the benefit this will actually have on small businesses as a whole. By creating exceptions for start-up business owners but not for other small businesses, he could create substantial loopholes in the system. Does your business qualify as a ‘start-up’ business? Making the tax code more complicated might not be the answer small business is looking for.

Another complication for small business is that neither Obama nor his team has made any clear statements regarding their intentions about the capital gains tax. Their vagueness on the definition of a start-up business, as well as the details on how the tax cuts will be designed, seems to show that this is not his top priority.

The financial crisis and large business bailouts have eclipsed the needs of small business and the latter’s needs have been pushed down the list. Further still are the needs of other constituencies such as the Employee Free Choice Act which is strongly backed by unions and labor advocacy groups. Where does small business stand in line on Obama’s agenda?

Small businesses are forced to wait and see what the new President will do first, hoping that some small relief is forthcoming. Optimistic business owners will remember that the plight of small business was a focal point in both campaigns and we can only hope it won’t be pushed aside.

Dawn Kraus has been working with small businesses and not-for-profit organizations since she graduated Johnson and Wales University in 1994.
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