Business & Economy
Senate Legislation Protects Small Business from Job-Crushing Health Insurance Tax PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jennifer Cooper   
Monday, 21 November 2011 15:53

Senators Barrasso, Hatch, Snowe Introduce Bill to Repeal HIT

 

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 16, 2011 — United States Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) today introduced legislation, The Jobs and Premium Protection Act, to repeal the onerous Health Insurance Tax (HIT) which takes $87 billion away from small business by the end of the decade, resulting in a job-loss of 125,000 to 249,000 jobs in the private sector in 2021, according to a study released by the National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation; small business will shoulder 59 percent of this job-loss burden.

“The Health Insurance Tax is a Washington policy that will have a devastating impact on our nation’s job creators,” said Susan Eckerly, Senior Vice President of Public Policy. “The stark reality is that the country’s economy is still reeling, and every single job matters; the last thing people in the unemployment line want to hear is that one less job will be created and even more will be shed as a result of the HIT.  Because of the leadership of Senators Barrasso, Hatch and Snowe, small-business owners now have bipartisan and bicameral legislation that will repeal this tax and protect their ability to continue to create vital jobs.”

“Our legislation repeals this unfair, hidden tax on America’s job creators, and will save thousands of jobs across the country,” said United States Senator John Barrasso.  “This tax is just another example of how the President’s trillion dollar health spending law is only making things worse for small businesses and their workers. With 9 percent unemployment, hardworking Americans cannot afford to be hit hard by even higher premiums.  We need to stop the HIT on our economy now – before it starts.”

“Chock full of tax hikes, mandates and government overreach, the President’s $2.6 trillion health spending law is an anchor around our economy’s neck,” said United States Senator Orrin Hatch.  “The health law’s insurance tax is especially damaging, undercutting our economic recovery by increasing the cost of health coverage.  Money that could go to higher wages, new workers, or investment will instead go to pay this new tax.  With insurance premiums already skyrocketing and unemployment hovering at 9 percent, this tax makes no sense.  The President is demanding jobs legislation; he should start by supporting the repeal of this tax.”

“Preventing the new health insurance tax is critical, especially in the current economic environment,” said United States Senator Olympia J. Snowe.  “As the cost of health insurance continues to rise unabated – another 9 percent on average this year – individuals and small businesses are struggling to afford coverage.  Meanwhile, the Democrats’ health care law is set to impose this $60 billion tax and the Director of the Congressional Budget Office has confirmed this tax will be paid by the individuals and small businesses who buy health insurance.  This tax could increase the cost of health insurance by 15 percent for small businesses, and kill hundreds of thousands of jobs.  I am proud to be a sponsor of the Premium Protection Act, and remain committed to repealing the job-killing health care law, as well as to repealing its worst pieces.”

The Health Insurance Tax, which goes into effect in 2014, will cost small-business owners, their employees and the self-employed, $87 billion in the first ten years and $208 billion in the following ten years; the tax impacts 2 million small businesses, 12 million employees and the self-employed who purchase in the individual market and 26 million employees who are covered by their employer, resulting in a cost of nearly $5,000 per family over a decade.

The NFIB Research Foundation’s BSIM (Business Size Impact Module) model suggests that such a price increase will reduce private sector employment by 125,000 to 249,000 jobs in 2021, with 59 percent of those losses falling on small business. The BSIM is a dynamic, multi-region forecasting model that analyzes the impact of policy “shocks” on the economy.  The BSIM is unique in ability among models to forecast the economic impact of policy on U.S. businesses differentiated by the size of the firm; in this case, small business is defined as those firms with less than 500 employees (Small Business Association definition).

Representative Charles Boustany (R-LA) has introduced legislation in the House, HR 1370, to repeal the Health Insurance Tax and his legislation currently has 78 bipartisan cosponsors, leading the way for a bicameral and bipartisan repeal of the Health Insurance Tax.

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With Deficit Reduction Deadline Looming, Harkin, DeFazio Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Generates More Than $350 Billion PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Tuesday, 15 November 2011 14:02
Tuesday, November 15, 2011

With a deadline looming for the deficit reduction committee, lawmakers supporting The Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax have sent a letter to the committee urging them to adopt their proposal.  The lawmakers, led by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), outlined the revenue generating impact of their bill.  Analysis conducted by the Joint Committee on Taxation found that the Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act introduced earlier this month will raise $352 billion over the time period of January 2013 through 2021. The Joint Tax Committee also estimated that the Act raises $218.6 billion in the last 5 years, on average over $43 billion per year.

“As you work to craft a comprehensive deficit reduction plan, we believe you should incorporate reasonable spending cuts and ask the wealthiest Americans and most profitable corporations to pay their fair share. However, we understand through media reports and talking to our colleagues that revenue options remain the largest challenge in your negotiations to obtain significant deficit reduction. We believe we have a viable revenue option that deserves serious consideration,” wrote the lawmakers. “Given the extraordinary profitability of Wall Street banks while the rest of the economy is suffering, there is no question that Wall Street can easily bear this modest tax. In fact, while Wall Street lobbyists will express great concern with our proposal, they will not tell you that the European Union is considering a similar proposal, but with a tax rate that is more than three times higher.”

The Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax places a small tax of three basis points (3 pennies on $100 in value) on most non-consumer financial trading including stocks, bonds and other debts, except for their initial issuance.  For example, if a company receives a loan from a financial company, that transaction would not be taxed.  But, if the financial institution traded the debt, the trade would be subject to the tax.  The tax would also cover all derivative contracts, options, forward contracts, swaps and other complex instruments at their actual cost.  The measure excludes debt that has an original term of less than 100 days.  

The full text of the letter can be found here.

 
Senate Passes Tax Incentive to Encourage Hiring of Veterans PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 15 November 2011 12:48

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley today welcomed Senate passage of a version of the veterans hiring legislation he and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus introduced in January and urged House of Representatives passage as soon as possible.

“These men and women are extremely capable,” Grassley said.  “They have a lot of skills to offer in the workplace.  The legislation that Senator Baucus and I put together clears some bureaucratic hurdles and adds a financial incentive to encourage employers to seek out veterans.  These steps are a logical follow-up to my effort to increase the IRS’ hiring of veterans.  The IRS saw the value of this pool of potential workers and followed through on increased hiring of veterans.  Other employers, including small businesses, should have similar opportunities.”

The legislation approved by the Senate today was based on the Veterans Employment Transition Act, or the VETs Jobs bill, introduced by Grassley and Baucus in January.  A previous version of this credit, which was part of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and also authored by Grassley and Baucus, was designed to help employers hire veterans but expired at the end of 2010.

The new version of the legislation would reinstate the tax credit and make it easier for veterans and small businesses to use.  As a result, servicemen and women who have been recently discharged would be able to provide documentation directly from the Department of Defense without having to go through the tax credit’s current certification process.

The credits will range from up to $2,400 to up to $9,600 in 2012 depending on the veteran hired.  Tax exempt organizations are eligible for the credit.  The credit is only available for calendar year 2012. The credits are 40% of the veteran’s wages up to $24,000.  The credits total:

  • $9,600 for veterans with service-connected disabilities unemployed for 6 months or longer in the past year.
  • $5,600 for veterans unemployed for 6 months or longer in the past year.
  • $4,800 for service-disabled veterans hired within 1 year of being discharged.
  • $2,400 for veterans who do not fit any of the above categories and are unemployed for between 4 weeks and 6 months in the past year.

Any veteran who has left active duty in the past five years who has discharge paperwork showing 180 days of qualified active duty would be eligible for the credit. This would include those men and women who were activated by their states as members of the National Guard.  The bill also helps service members market themselves to prospective employers by requiring the military to educate service members about how the credit works.

Noting that the unemployment rate for veterans is higher than for non-veterans nationwide, the senators first introduced the VETs Jobs bill in May 2010.

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Governor Quinn Applauds Passage of Legislation to Strengthen Unemployment Insurance Program PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Andrew Mason   
Monday, 14 November 2011 14:59

Bi-Partisan Reforms Will Save Businesses $400 Million, Encourage Growth

SPRINGFIELD – November 10, 2011. Governor Quinn today applauded the passage of bi-partisan legislation to strengthen the integrity of Illinois’ unemployment insurance program. The reforms – supported by numerous groups, including the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and the Illinois AFL-CIO – are expected to save Illinois businesses more than $400 million, provide 16 percent unemployment insurance tax reductions for companies that have not laid off workers, and identify and punish those that defraud the unemployment system.

"We are in difficult economic times, and we need to bolster our unemployment insurance program to protect both workers and businesses," Governor Quinn said. "As we did with our workers’ compensation overhaul this spring, we brought everyone to the table to find a solution. I want to thank representatives of labor, business and the General Assembly whose hard work and collaboration created a package of reforms that will reward Illinois companies for sound business practices, protect those laid off through no fault of their own and give our companies the confidence to grow.”

Illinois’ Unemployment Trust Fund (UTF), like all unemployment trust funds, is designed to be resilient to economic movements, running deficits during downturns and building a surplus during times of prosperity. Due to the ongoing national recession, however, the self-correcting unemployment trust funds in more than half of U.S. states currently carry a negative balance. Illinois is expected to end 2011 with $2.4 billion in outstanding loans from the federal government to cover state unemployment benefits. Without the agreement, in 2012 federal penalties would result in increased unemployment insurance taxes for companies throughout Illinois, regardless of whether they have laid off workers.

The legislation allows Illinois to issue non-General Revenue Fund (GRF) bonds during a period of historically low interest rates to keep the fund solvent, without shrinking benefits and preventing additional taxes to businesses. The bonds prevent continued UTF borrowing at 4 percent interest from the federal government, saving the state an estimated $240 million (nearly $82 million in interest payments in 2012 alone). The bonds are paid for entirely by businesses normal contributions to the UTF and require no payments from the GRF, freeing money for other state obligations.

The bill also will save businesses more than $400 million through 2019 by preventing the penalty taxes that further federal borrowing for the UTF would create. In addition, the agreement will provide significant tax reductions to the nearly 46 percent of Illinois employers (more than 143,000) that have not laid off workers during the recession. Under this legislation, companies that have avoided layoffs will see, on average, a 16 percent reduction in their unemployment insurance taxes in 2012.

"Businesses need a degree of tax certainty to successfully grow in this economy. This legislation will provide the tax relief to make that happen while making the trust fund solvent," David Vite, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said.

"This bill recognizes the difficult decisions necessary to prime the pump of this economy," Tim Drea, secretary-treasurer of the Illinois AFL-CIO, said. "We recognize that the best economic environment in Illinois occurs when business and labor work together."

The reforms also introduce new tools to prevent and recover fraudulent payments, which will help restore UTF solvency. The legislation will, for the first time, allow the state to garnish federal tax returns of individuals who purposefully collect unearned unemployment insurance benefits and establish personal liability for individuals who defraud the unemployment insurance program of taxes owed.

"This legislation will help our businesses regain their footing and provide certainty so they can appropriately prepare for the future," Illinois Department of Employment Security Director Jay Rowell said. "Although the lingering effects of the national recession echo across our country, we must not let that uncertainty prevent sound proposals that will help our local economy."

The unemployment insurance program is a joint federal-state effort, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Businesses’ unemployment insurance taxes fund the UTF, and those contributions fund unemployment insurance benefits to qualified workers. The amount businesses pay is tied to their experience with the program; the more employees a business lays off, the more they must contribute to the fund to support the increased stress on the UTF.

The UTF provides benefits to individuals laid off through no fault of their own based on their income over the previous four quarters. Unemployment benefits provide temporary assistance until an individual is able to find meaningful employment. Temporary payments also help communities in times of economic stress by ensuring continued spending in the local economy.

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Grassley Weekly Video Address: Honoring Veterans, Help in Hiring PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Monday, 14 November 2011 14:57

During his weekly video address, Senator Chuck Grassley says thank you to all American veterans for their outstanding service and tremendous sacrifices on Veterans Day and discusses tax policy to encourage employers to hire qualified veterans who have recently completed their military service.

 

Click here for audio.

 

Here is the text of the address:

A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.  The unemployment rate for veterans is higher than for non-veterans nationwide.  These men and women are extremely capable.  They have valuable skills to offer the workplace.  They need job opportunities.  This week, the United States Senate took action to help by passing legislation to encourage employers to hire veterans.

The legislative proposal that passed builds on previous legislation put forward by Senator Max Baucus and me, as part of our bipartisan work on the Senate’s tax policy committee.  That law expired at the end of 2010.  What’s now been renewed and passed by the Senate would increase the reward for employers for hiring qualified veterans who have recently completed their service in the military.  The new version of the tax credit also would make it easier for veterans and small businesses to use.

Veterans – including those men and women who were activated by their states as members of the National Guard – will be helped by this tax incentive.  It was passed by the Senate as our nation pauses for Veterans Day.

The eleventh day of the eleventh month is designated as Veterans Day to celebrate as a national community and honor America’s living veterans for their courage, patriotism and sacrifice.  America’s veterans put their lives on the line to defend freedom, protect national security and secure the safety of loved ones here at home.  Like all those uniformed men and women in whose footsteps they follow, members of the Armed Forces continue to make the words “land of the free and home of the brave” ring true.  We owe our liberty and our way of life to them.

So -- to all of those who have answered the call of duty and served -- I thank you for defending my freedom and the freedom of all Americans.  Those words cannot be said enough.  It’s our duty and our privilege to honor all American veterans for their outstanding service and tremendous sacrifices on Veterans Day and every day.

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