Make the most of time: Tell Congress to avoid the “cliff”

Dan Danner
Dan Danner

Hard work. Long hours. That’s reality for America’s small business owners. You know what it takes, and you know who built your businesses.

You also know that time is one of your most valuable assets. You don’t get second chances.

Between now and Dec. 31 — except for important holidays, family events and religious observances —you’ll take advantage of every opportunity during those 100-plus days to build and sustain your firm.

Congress, however, has only about 30 official work days scheduled before the end of the year. Much of that time will be lost due to the inefficient machinery politicians have built into the business of legislating.

The most important thing that both you and Congress can do in these next few weeks is keep the date Dec. 31 in sharp focus.

If lawmakers fail to act responsibly and extend a number of important tax provisions, that will have a direct impact on your business. America — not just small business — will sail off the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Awaiting you at the bottom is an almost $500 billion tax increase.

For the 75 percent of small business owners who pay taxes as individuals, your rates will skyrocket. For those of you who want to pass your businesses on to family members, estate tax exemption levels will rise and rates will leap 20 percentage points.

And there’s plenty more to worry about if this deadline passes without favorable action on Capitol Hill: Section 179 expensing limits will plummet to $25,000, the so-called “built-in gains” holding period for S corporation assets will increase to10 years and about 23 million additional taxpayers will be hit with the alternative minimum tax.

No matter what you’re doing at this moment, stop and mark your calendars with three important dates.

First, today: Call, visit and write your congressional delegation. Urge your representatives and senators to keep your business and our nation from going over the cliff.

Second, Nov. 6, election day: Go to the polls and vote for those who care about small business and free enterprise. Encourage as many family members, employees and friends to do the same.

Third, Dec. 31: When this day arrives, give yourself a pat on the back for making every effort possible during the previous 100-plus days to prevent this financial disaster from happening.

The fiscal cliff should have never been a possibility in the first place. Our nation cannot sustain such irresponsible tinkering with its financial structure. As a small business owner, you understand the importance of balancing your budget, spending no more than you take in and putting any assets you gain back into your enterprise to make it even more successful.

Now is the time to demand that your legislators learn to do the same. Like its small business foundation, time is also one of America’s most valuable assets. Neither should be squandered for the sake of political gain.

Do it now. Tell Congress to give small business owners greater tax certainty. You’ll take America’s recovery from there.