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“HIT” Tax Endangers Small Business

Date: May 26, 2011

Dan Danner

“Small businesses embody the promise of America: that if you have a good idea and are willing to work hard enough, you can succeed in our country.” 

When President Obama proclaimed National Small Business Week with those words last week, he should have mentioned that small businesses not only have to work hard but they also have to be vigilant about fending off threats from their own government. 

If the president seriously sought to “honor and celebrate the individuals whose inspiration and efforts keep America strong,” he would have called a press conference to ask Congress to roll back his new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act–the massive new health care law that saddles small businesses with a wagonload of cost increases. 

His statement that “entrepreneurship is essential to the strength and resilience of our economy and our way of life” rings hollow when you realize that this law will soon slam small-business owners with an unprecedented tax burden that is certain to sap their entrepreneurial strength and undercut their ability to create new jobs. 

Aptly named “The HIT,” this health insurance tax is actually levied on insurers, but they’ll treat it like a hot potato, quickly tossing it into the laps of unsuspecting small-business owners to pay. 

Dipping deep into small-business pockets beginning in 2014, the tax will drain $8 billion from them that year alone and steadily increase to more than $14 billion in 2018 and thereafter. The tally for years 2014 to 2020 could be as high as $87 billion. 

One of the largest single assessments ever aimed at Main Street, the tax will fall on 12 million workers and self-employed entrepreneurs who purchase their own insurance as individuals, as well as 26 million more workers whose small employers pay their medical benefits. 

Annual family coverage is expected to leap by $500 a year when the tax kicks in. One former head of the Congressional Budget Office, Doug Holtz-Eakin, estimates that over a decade, the tax will siphon $5,000 from the average family. And that’s in addition to what a small businesses must pay. 

Exempt from the hot-potato game are unions, state and local governments and big businesses. They have the ability to self-insure. 

For decades, small-business owners have been unsuccessfully pleading to Congress for help to provide affordable health insurance. What they got is a health reform law that won’t succeed and worse, a tax that makes a mockery of their long-standing contributions to the nation’s economic stability. 

In addition to challenging the constitutionality of the president’s entire health reform law in federal court along with 26 states, the National Federation of Independent Business is now making plans to build support for bi-partisan legislation just introduced by Rep. Charles Boustany of Louisiana, and co-sponsored by Representative Dan Boren of Oklahoma, that seeks to repeal the HIT. 

If this tax and the law that delivers it are not halted, the long-sought economic recovery will remain far beyond our grasp and many of those small businesses that were honored by the president last week as “the cornerstones of America’s Promise” won’t be around to celebrate many more National Small Business Weeks.

 

Dan Danner

Dan Danner
President and CEO, NFIB
 

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