By U.S. Senator Jim Risch
Less than three months after Congress passed a once-in-a-generation tax reform package, hundreds of small businesses and counting have announced new expansions, pay raises, bonuses and other benefits to their employees. The number of American workers receiving more take-home pay has reached nearly 4.4 million. And according to CNBC/Survey Monkey data, at least half of small business owners are now expecting tax cuts in 2018. When Republicans in Congress set out to reform the tax code, we promised strong economic growth and recovery and I’m proud to say we are delivering just that. Entrepreneurs are finally feeling the long-overdue relief they deserve, thanks to a tax code that allows them to succeed.
As Chairman of the Small Business Committee, I know how grueling and overly complicated our tax code became in the 30 years since its last reform. Entrepreneurs have been strangled by the policies coming out of Washington, requiring nearly 90 percent of small business owners to hire outside tax preparers to make sure they complied with the tax code. And that’s why, from the beginning of the tax debate, I fought hard for small business owners and entrepreneurs like you who have felt the tightest squeeze over the past decade.
Creating an environment where entrepreneurs could generate more savings, invest in their employees, customers and assets and grow was a primary aim of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Indeed, providing relief to our nation’s 28 million small businesses was at the heart of this plan and it’s clear that it’s working. Small business optimism is at a record high. Thirty-two percent of small businesses believe now is a good time to expand–the highest level in the National Federation of Independent Business survey’s history.
What we’re experiencing is more than just optimism. Entrepreneurs are already seeing more money in their pockets, and that has served as a strong catalyst for growth. Fifty-nine percent of small business owners said they anticipate economic expansion in the next year, according to CNBC. For example, Rudaina Hamade, owner of Renaissance Property Management in Dearborn, Michigan, is making significant capital investments in her family’s business, which includes the purchase of new software, machinery and tools; these are all upgrades that will enable Rudaina to continue to grow her business and support her employees.
As entrepreneurs’ paychecks have grown, so have their employees’. In the American spirit of giving, many businesses are using their newfound savings to invest in their workers. NAWBO member Loreen Gilbert, president of WealthWise Financial Services in Irvine, California, gave each of her employees an unexpected year-end bonus after tax reform was passed. In addition to rewarding the hard work of her current employees, Loreen was able to hire two new employees with the confidence that the economy is growing stronger each day thanks to tax reform and its many benefits.
In my home state of Idaho, where farming and ranching is a way of life, local small business owners can now immediately expense the cost of important investments like tractors, new technology and other equipment. And for the first time, they can claim up to $1 million in business investments, double from the allowable claim prior.
All of these changes are doing their part to establish a strong economy with low unemployment and rapid growth. The Labor Department says the unemployment rate is at the lowest level since 2000. Average hourly wages increased by 2.9 percent last year, the largest increase in eight years. As the benefits of tax reform continue to be realized, small business owners are going to experience one of the best and most small business-friendly economies in recent U.S. history.
In addition to tax reform, the Senate has taken steps to provide small businesses with significant relief from burdensome and unnecessary regulations. Using the Congressional Review Act, we rolled back 14 Obama-era regulations and rules. As a result of these, and other efforts, the Federal Register was cut by roughly one-third in 2017. Republicans delivered approximately $60 billion in regulatory relief and saved Americans more than 10.7 million hours of paperwork.
When small businesses succeed, we all succeed. I’m proud of this Congress’ work to deliver fewer taxes and regulations, and more flexibility for small business owners. Looking ahead to the remainder of 2018, I’m optimistic that we will continue to make progress moving these objectives forward.