Still wondering what a fiscal cliff and healthcare proposals mean to you?

    By Adrienne Burke | Small Business

    infographic: National Federation of Independent Businesses

    Most small business owners will be sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow unsure of whether or not to be grateful for what's in store for them in the coming year. That's because few have any clear idea how the two biggest issues on the table in Washington today--the approaching fiscal cliff and the Affordable Care Act--will impact their small business next year. That's a recipe for indigestion.

    Government agencies and small business organizations are rising to the occasion to help you understand what might be in store for you if, indeed, the nation goes over the so-called cliff, and when the Affordable Care Act goes into full effect. Here are some resources they offer.

    The Affordable Care Act and your business

    The Department of Health and Human Services posted information to its website this summer to help entrepreneurs understand the implications of the Affordable Care Act specifically for small business. Now, the National Small Business Association is helping owners keep up with developments in health care legislation rulemaking.

    While businesses in many states wait to learn whether their state will establish health insurance exchanges, HHS extended the deadline for states to announce their intention to establish an exchange from Nov. 16 to Dec. 14.

    HHS this week also released proposed regulations implementing aspects of the law related to employee wellness programs, essential health benefits, and actuarial values, accreditation standards and the health insurance market. The National Small Business Association says it will evaluate the rules and provide detailed comments to HHS.

    For small business owners who might like to do the same, NSBA provides these links:

    The fiscal cliff and your business

    Here are four ways to get a grip on how the fiscal cliff, if not averted, will affect your business' future.

    1. Tune in at 11:00 am Tuesday, Nov. 27, for a free educational webinar coordinated by the Small Business Majority with more than a dozen small business advocacy organizations to learn what the fiscal cliff is and how it could affect the small business community. During the one-hour event Ellen Nissenbaum, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs for the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities and Rhett Buttle, Director of Small Business Majority's Washington, DC, operations, will cover what tax cuts might be expiring at the end of the year, how they would affect small businesses, what solutions Congress is currently discussing, and why it is important for lawmakers to strike the right balance between increasing revenues and reducing expenses.
    2. For an easy-to-understand primer on how we got to the edge of the cliff, see this short video, Everything You Wanted to Know about the Fiscal Cliff, from Wall Street Journal reporter David Wessel.
    3. Bill Dunkelberg, chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Businesses, also offers a fiscal cliff primer. See his video or read NFIB's fiscal cliff crib sheet or see a closeup of the infographic shown above and NFIB's "taxmageddon is coming to main street" fact sheet here.
    4. Read what more than 600 small business owners think about the fiscal cliff in a letter they wrote to Congress that was published yesterday in the Huffington Post.

    And remember, even if those aforementioned proposed Affordable Care Act rules get thrown out or Congress averts the fiscal cliff, all of that reading won't have been a total waste of time. You'll have learned a lot about where you and your business might have ended up. With any luck, the alternative will be something you can be thankful for next Thanksgiving.

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