Officials Listening to Small business.(BUSINESS)

Article excerpt

Byline: Marie Beaudette, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Jorge Lozano wants to pass his small security company on to his two children, but he says high estate taxes could make that impossible.

"Give us a break on this 'death tax,'" said Mr. Lozano, the owner of Condor Tech Services, of Annandale, which outfits buildings with security systems. "I work hard, and I want to pass this on to my son and daughter."

President Bush agrees with Mr. Lozano's concerns about the challenges facing small businesses, and he has dispatched some of his top lieutenants to remind owners that the Bush administration supports them when it comes to cutting taxes and regulations.

The target site is the annual conference of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), a crucial political ally that Republicans are counting on for campaign contributions and votes in the upcoming midterm elections.

Hundreds of representatives from small businesses across the country will meet in Washington this week for the conference to discuss complaints that small-business owners are unfairly burdened by taxes, bureaucratic red tape and high health care costs.

Mr. Bush has sent top officials, including Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao and Small Business Administrator Hector V. Barreto, to the conference to show the administration's support for small businesses.

They will tout Mr. Bush's small-business agenda, announced in March, which includes proposals for tax incentives, less-expensive health care, fewer regulatory burdens and greater access to information for small businesses.

Small businesses make up 98 percent of all new businesses started in the United States. Forty percent of the nation's gross domestic product is supplied by small businesses, according to NFIB.

"The small family business is one of the backbones of this economy," said Ed Frank, a spokesman for NFIB.

Mr. Bush last week announced plans to permanently repeal the estate tax, which is levied on an estate after the owner's death. This plan passed the House of Representatives last week and is awaiting a Senate vote.The estate tax is scheduled to be phased out gradually by 2010, but it will return in 2011. Small-business owners complain that this would benefit only a small number of people, Mr. Frank said.

This initiative is part of Mr. Bush's tax-relief plan, which passed last year. The administration claims that small-business owners and entrepreneurs will receive 79 percent of the tax relief from the reduction of the top income-tax rate from 35 percent to 33 percent. …