Small businesses drive our economy. And earlier this month, the country celebrated National Small Business Week, recognizing the 28 million small companies that create opportunities for millions of Americans through employment and innovation.
Their economic contributions are well known – small businesses create two out of every three new jobs annually and generate income for more than 50 percent of Americans who either own or work for them. Between 2009 and 2015, 67 percent of all job growth came from small businesses.
However, starting and growing a small business is difficult work. Despite the critical role small businesses play in our economy, they still face too many hurdles that stymie their growth potential. Many struggle, and about half still fail within five years. Interestingly, small businesses that use technology to help them organize, while also establishing a relationship with an accountant, tend to have a better growth path where others might stumble. This underscores why policymakers need to do all they can to support these entrepreneurs and the jobs they create.
While each business is unique, they all share common challenges. Thirty years ago, Intuit was created at a kitchen table because there had to be a better way to make money management and family budgeting simple and streamlined. Today, millions of small businesses and self-employed individuals in this country face the same set of challenges, including managing their finances, accounting, payroll and tax compliance.
Here are three ways policymakers can help small businesses stay open for business:
Reform small business lending. The internet provides new avenues for small businesses to raise money. Non-bank lenders are an emerging source of funding, and are projected to grow from an existing base of $9 billion to $83 billion by 2020. Yet these new lenders are forced to comply with a patchwork of antiquated state and federal laws and regulations that make it extremely costly and complicated for them to succeed in an online environment.
Times have changed, and our small business lending framework should be modernized. Rules that were written to regulate mortgage brokers at the neighborhood bank don’t meet the realities of an online world or the needs of small businesses seeking credit. Lack of financing has also disproportionally affected women and minorities; according to the Small Business Administration (SBA), they are more likely to use costlier credit cards for their startups.
Moreover, the SBA must update its loan programs to simplify and speed up the application process. Many SBA loans could be great for small businesses, but old-fashioned processes and slow funding cause many to look elsewhere.
Policymakers must strike a balance that ensures consumer protection and enhances access to government programs, all while permitting innovative practices that provide much-needed access to funding for small businesses on a timely basis.
Provide regulatory relief. Small businesses face a growing number of complex laws, rules, regulations and taxes. Most of these requirements are well-intentioned, but the cumulative effect and cost of compliance creates unnecessary and, in some cases, insurmountable burdens. Ending outdated regulation and simplifying the complicated tax code would ease that burden and stimulate small business growth across the country.
Last year, the House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation that would have directed several government agencies to take better account of the impact of government regulation on small business. We encourage Congress to renew that effort and enact legislation that would ease compliance burdens facing small businesses.
Comprehensive tax reform and simplification. Everyone is in agreement that the current tax system is overly burdensome and complicated, and reform is needed. However, small businesses are often forgotten when tax reform is discussed.
One example is the Internal Revenue Service’s preference for paper versus electronic records. We live in a digital world where virtually every financial transaction is captured electronically, yet the government still prefers taxpayers to keep paper records of their deductible expenses. Policymakers should take immediate steps to permit individuals and small businesses to submit financial information to the government electronically, and to maintain their supporting records in a digital format. This complies with the Paperwork Reduction Act and many other laws passed by Congress.
When policymakers take up comprehensive tax reform, we urge Congress to focus on simplifying the tax code in ways that will help the entire taxpaying public, including small businesses.
Intuit was built on an optimism that sees boundless opportunities in the success of all businesses and taxpayers. Eliminating outdated regulatory hurdles, supporting avenues for growth and advocating for tax simplification are all policies that will help small businesses grow and complement our mission to “simplify the business of life.”