A broad coalition of business groups came out in support of S corporation reforms today, writing to House of Representatives in support of HR 4453, the S Corporation Permanent Relief Act of 2014. The House is expected to vote on this measure tomorrow.
As Wire readers know, making permanent the five year recognition period for built-in gains has been a priority of the S Corporation Association for years, and while we’ve been successful in reducing the recognition period on a temporary basis, this is the first time either the House or the Senate has considered a permanent fix. Given the current softness of the economy, particularly when it comes to business investment levels, acting now makes perfect sense.
Unlike public corporations, these closely-held businesses have little or no access to the capital markets. Instead they rely on banks, relatives, and their own savings to fill their investment and working capital needs. An overly long built-in gains recognition period makes this disadvantage worse by preventing converted S corporations from accessing their own capital and putting it to better use.
Locking up a company’s capital for an entire decade is simply unreasonable. Past Congresses have recognized that a decade is too long and voted to reduce the recognition period on three separate occasions, but those temporary measures have expired and the 10-year rule is back in effect.
You can read the entire letter here.
…And Against Buffett Tax
In another trade group letter, more than thirty business groups, including the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Restaurant Association, and the S Corporation Association, wrote to Senate leaders expressing their strong opposition to the Buffett tax provision included in the student loan bill (S.2432) pending before the Senate. As the letter states:
Included in S. 2432, the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, the Buffett tax is a permanent $73 billion tax increase on taxpayers and business owners to pay for new federal spending. This new tax would be imposed on top of the other taxes business owners must currently pay, resulting in an increase in both the amount they pay and the complexity involved in calculating how much they owe.
As outlined in the bill, the Buffett tax requires those making over $2 million per year to pay a minimum 30 percent effective tax rate on all adjusted gross income. For taxpayers making between $1 million and $2 million, the bill includes a phase-in period that results in marginal tax rates well in excess of existing tax rates. While the Buffett tax does make some allowance for charitable contributions, the value of all other deductions and credits, including Section 179 small business expensing and other business deductions, would be reduced or eliminated under this tax.
The business community’s opposition helped to defeat the legislation, which lost on a procedural vote 56-38 (60 votes were necessary for the legislation to move forward).
So the Buffett tax has stalled for the moment, but the effort to raise tax rates on Main Street businesses will continue. The Senate has repeatedly attempted to pay for new spending in the past couple years by raising tax rates on individuals and pass-through businesses. The current Senate leadership supports significantly higher tax rates and that support has already resulted in the tax hike on S corporations following the fiscal cliff negotiations, as well as the new 3.8 percent investment tax used to help pay for health care reform. Both of these tax increases took effect at the beginning of 2013 and resulted in top rates for Main Street businesses rising from 35 percent to nearly 45 percent.
Now they want more, and they will continue to press for more, until the business community steps up and says “enough.” If it makes sense to reduce tax rates on corporations to “make American businesses more competitive” why doesn’t that same argument apply to pass-through businesses employing the majority of private sector workers? As we have made abundantly clear, pass-through businesses pay more in taxes, they employ more people, and they are the heart and soul of nearly every community in America. The S corporation community is 4.6 million strong. It’s time the Senate started to appreciate that.