Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Issues Facing Small Business during the Coming Year

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Issues Facing Small Business during the Coming Year

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- Health care, taxes, e-commerce and finding employees. These issues that small businesses contended with during 1999 will be back again in 2000.

Small businesses face some of the same national and economic issues as the rest of Corporate America, such as rising health care costs. They also have some special problems due to their size, such as competing against bigger companies that keep on merging, and competing against companies that operate online.

Dan Danner, senior vice president for federal public policy at the National Federation of Independent Business, said that while big corporations are expecting health costs to rise 8 percent to 10 percent in the next year, the increase for small businesses may have increases double that amount.

"They're struggling to provide health care," he said.

Moreover, health care insurers have withdrawn from parts of the country they find unprofitable, reducing competition and opening the possibility for even higher costs.

Lower taxes, a perennial issue for businesses of any size, are also high on smaller companies' wish lists for 2000. Danner said President Clinton's veto in September of a 10-year, $792 billion tax cut package killed among other things changes in pension plans that would have made pensions easier and cheaper to set up.

Small businesses would also like to see changes in tax laws that would make it easier for family businesses to be passed on to the next generation. Under current laws, Danner said, businesses such as farms often end up being sold when the owner dies in order to pay estate taxes.

Businesses are also uneasy about some proposed government regulations, Danner said, including a Clinton administration proposal that would allow states to use surpluses in their unemployment funds to pay for paid family leave.

"We have a great concern that at some time, if the economy's not in such great shape, you're robbing money that was for unemployment insurance and payroll taxes would be raised," Danner said.

Businesses are also concerned about, and are fighting, proposed workplace ergonomic rules, which would require employers to minimize the everyday physical stresses of certain jobs. "We're very concerned about what the cost of compliance and paperwork would be for small businesses," Danner said, adding that the wording of the proposed rules is vague in some parts. …

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