Point of View: Federal Proposal Would Burden Oklahoma's Small Businesses

Date: August 26, 2020

NFIB State Director Jerrod Shouse Says Federal Proposal is Bad For Small Business

State Director in Oklahoma, Jerrod Shouse, penned an opinion letter that appeared in the Oklahoman:

Federal legislators recently introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021. The legislation requires small businesses to file paperwork with the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, including the name, date of birth, address, driver’s license number and passport, of anyone with a 25% ownership stake in that business.

Supporters of the requirement hope this information will increase the ability of law enforcement to take down money launderers. However, the legislation would create huge risks and burdens for small-business owners at a time when many are on the brink of survival due to COVID-19.

According to research from the National Federation of Independent Business, if the amendment became law, small businesses would be required to complete an average of 13.2 million hours of additional paperwork from 2023 to 2032. That’s an annual average of $573 million in regulatory costs and over 10 years, $5.7 billion that would fall on the shoulders of small-business owners.

When I say small-business owners, I mean the smallest of the small: This proposed law would impact nearly every employer with 20 or fewer employees. To make matters worse, this would be a lifetime-mandated paperwork burden that is inescapable. Failure to provide and complete the mandate could result in significant fines, even prison time.

Small-business owners don’t have a team of counsels dedicated to filling out government-mandated forms. Most NFIB members in Oklahoma have fewer than 10 employees. That means the burden of handling compliance issues and reporting requirements falls on the small-business owner. It’s time they could be spending making sure their customers and employees are protected from the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing back jobs to support Oklahoma families and the economy, and growing their business during this scary and unprecedented time.

We are in the middle of a pandemic. Thousands of Oklahoma small businesses have been shut down, others are hanging on by a thread. Why are certain members of Congress effectively punishing them by handcuffing small-business owners with onerous mandates? Thanks goodness four out of Oklahoma’s five U.S. representatives opposed the idea when it was voted on as a stand-alone effort. I urge Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to resist including this proposal in the final defense bill.

My hope is that Oklahomans realize oppressive paperwork and invasive intrusions on privacy could be the camel that broke the back on hundreds of small-business owners across the state.

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