Both presidential campaigns say they're best for small business, but Kristie Arslan says neither has backed up the claim with substantive plans. "They've never been specific on any of the priorities for the 21 million self-employed Americans," Arslan, president and CEO of the National Association for the Self Employed, wrote in the Huffington Post on Friday.
Arslan challenged both candidates to respond to three of her organization's requests for specific tax deductions for the self-employed:
1. Will you support the permanent, full deduction of health insurance premiums for the self-employed so that the self-employed will no longer pay annually, on average, nearly $1,800 in additional taxes than other business owners?
2. Will you support legislation to make the tax deduction for startup expenses permanent, instead of letting the provision expire at the end of this year?
3. Will you support legislation to simplify the home office deduction for home-based businesses, by allowing the option of a standard $1,500 deduction for home office expenses?
The column followed Arslan's July 31 submission of a letter on behalf of NASE to the House Ways & Means Committee requesting a hearing on America's Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2012. Representatives Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Ron Kind (D-WI) introduced the bill, H.R. 6102, earlier last month.
Arslan says the eight permanent tax deductions that the bill proposes for the self-employed would provide "fiscal clarity" and "tax code equity" to her constituents, more than three-fourths of whom carry health insurance. "The bill clearly signals the intent of this Congress to ensure the viability of America's smallest businesses and will allow these businesses to grow and thrive," Arslan wrote to the Congressmen.
A recent NASE member survey indicated that 85 percent of the self-employed consider rising health coverage costs over the past three years to have been "detrimental to, their families, their businesses and their bottom line."
Arslan argued that the self-employed pay on average nearly $1,800 in additional taxes "that no other business owners face because they simply decided to purchase health insurance." She estimates that writing off those costs would enable self-employed people to put $39 billion back into their businesses and the economy.
But Arslan is unlikely to get an affirmative response to her HuffPo questions from the GOP camp. As we reported here yesterday, the Romney-Ryan campaign promises to eliminate many deductions and tax loopholes in favor of a simplified tax code with reduced tax rates for all.
Are you self-employed? Do you have health insurance? Would you support a tax deduction for self-employed individuals' health insurance costs, or prefer a simplified code with reduced overall rates? Tell us in the comments.