Today, the House Committee on Ways and Means held its first markup of tax legislation in several years to consider six separate pieces of legislation. All six bills would make certain expired or expiring tax provisions permanent, including tax incentives important to businesses of all sizes. Although the votes on the measures were mainly party-line votes, these measures (frequently called “tax extenders”) are among many that lawmakers from both parties have been supportive of in the past to boost economic growth and development, especially among small businesses.
One bill, H.R. 4457, would permanently extend the limit on Section 179 small business expense write-offs to $500,000. Since the previous tax extender expired at the end of 2013, the current write-off is only $25,000. This provision, which the Committee approved by a 21-14 vote, is among the most important tax extenders for franchise small businesses, and IFA has consistently advocated for its inclusion in tax extenders packages proposed in recent years.
Another measure, known as the “CFC look through” rule, addresses the treatment of payments between related controlled foreign corporations, and allows multinational companies to more easily move money between foreign subsidiaries. The Committee passed this measure by a vote of 22-14. A third bill, which passed by a vote of 21-13, addresses the tax implications of companies converting to Subchapter S, or “pass-through,” tax status. The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimates that the six measures will cost a combined $310 billion over a 10-year period.
Yesterday, the Health Subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways & Means held a hearing to examine the one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate. Last Tuesday, the Administration announced that it would be delaying the implementation until 2015. In his opening remarks, Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) expressed the Subcommittee’s concern with the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate and the way the announcement was made by the Administration. Chairman Brady also mentioned the consequences of the employer mandate for small businesses, saying that 3.2 million full-time jobs were at risk in the franchise industry alone.
Sean Falk, an IFA member and multi-unit franchisee of Mrs. Fields Cookies, Great American Cookies, PretzelMaker and Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina, was among the witnesses to testify before the Subcommittee on behalf of IFA. In his prepared remarks, Mr. Falk emphasized the concerns he and the franchise community had with the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate. He applauded the Administration for delaying the implementation of the employer mandate, but made it clear that “it does not solve the fundamental problems associated with the ACA and its impact on business operations and future job growth.” Click the thumbnail above to view a video of Mr. Falk’s testimony.
Mr. Falk testified that the mandate places a massive regulatory burden on his businesses and other franchise small businesses, stating that, “navigating the constant changes, waivers, extensions, regulations and clarifications of an already cumbersome law has diverted my focus from developing my business and creating new jobs.” Mr. Falk also noted that two specific changes to the employer mandate would go a long way to help franchise small business owners implement the law: increasing the 30-hour threshold that qualifies an employee as full-time to 40 hours a week; and increasing the 50 full-time equivalent employee threshold that requires employers to provide coverage to full-time employees.
Many of the Committee members commended Mr. Falk in his efforts to try and navigate the complexities of this law, like Congressmen Tom Price (R-GA) and Mike Kelly (R-PA). Chairman Brady concluded the hearing by thanking the witnesses and announcing a second hearing on the same subject. Next Wednesday, J. Mark Iwry, Senior Advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Retirement and Public Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury will testify at the Subcommittee’s second hearing to examine the employer mandate delay.
Later that day, IFA hosted a members-only webinar to further address the challenges franchise business owners face in implementing the employer mandate. After a brief update on advocacy from IFA’s Senior Vice President, Government Relations & Public Policy Judith Thorman, insurance industry veterans Andria Herr and Holly Wahl with IFA Supplier Member Hylant Group, an insurance brokerage with decades of experience working with the franchise industry, provided insight on the types of plans available to large and small employers alike. Click herefor a recording of the webinar.
Sean Falk appeared on CNBC to discuss how small business owners are concerned about the delay of the employer mandate: