Friday, January 25, 2008

Kerry Proposes Economic Help for Small Businesses

Sen. John Kerry [D-Mass.] will introduce legislation this week to provide much-needed assistance and an economic stimulus for small businesses facing tightening credit markets. His bill would provide targeted tax incentives to small businesses to encourage new investments, reduce fees on loans, and double funding for microloans. Kerry will work with his colleagues on the Committee on Finance to try and include the small-business tax provisions in the committee’s stimulus package.

"We need to look at ways to create jobs, and providing help to small businesses through targeted tax incentives and increased access to capital is one of the best steps Washington can take," said Kerry, chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. "Small businesses already employ more than half of our country’s workforce, so we need to make sure that entrepreneurs have money in their pockets to continue to grow their businesses."

Sen. Kerry’s bill will increase from $125,000 to $200,000 the amount small businesses can write off their taxes for new investments for 2008 in order to encourage new investments this year. The bill increases the net operating carryback period for losses arising in taxable years ending in 2007 and 2008 from two years to five years. This will help struggling businesses with their cash flow.

In addition, Kerry’s legislation will reduce fees on borrowers and lenders to make credit more affordable, and provide incentive for lenders to make small-business loans. The bill will provide additional funding to leverage nearly $20 million in microloans, which proportionally benefit underserved communities, including women and minorities, more than traditional loan programs.

With banks and lenders becoming more risk-averse, the federally backed loans -- which provide guarantees of anywhere from 50 to 85 percent -- will be increasingly important to spurring economic lending in the small-business sector, so that entrepreneurs aren’t forced to finance their businesses with high-interest credit cards.

According to the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders, loans are down 12 percent from this time last year in the largest government-backed small-business loan program, known as 7[a]. The Small Business Administration's 7[a] lending program is the largest source of long-term capital to small businesses in this country. SBAExpress loans — which are approved in weeks, not months, and therefore reflect current economic conditions more accurately — are down 23 percent.

SOURCES: Peace Corps Online [file photo], U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

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