Survey: 52 pct of small biz owners favor tax hike

NEW YORK (AP) — More than half of small business owners say that the nation's budget crisis warrants raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, according to a survey released Thursday.

Fifty-two percent of the 500 business owners surveyed by the advocacy group Small Business Majority say tax cuts should expire for the top 2 percent of Americans that have household income above $250,000, in order to help lower the federal deficit. Thirty-nine percent contend that raising taxes on the wealthy will hurt the economy by penalizing job creators and small business owners.

Taxes on small business owners have become one of the biggest issues in the presidential campaign. President Barack Obama has called for the highest tax rate, for households earning more than $250,000, to be raised to 39.6 percent next year to help lower the federal deficit. Republican nominee Mitt Romney and groups including the National Federation of Independent Business oppose the higher rate and say many small business owners fall into that tax bracket. These owners, some of who are sole owners or partners in a company, report their business income on their personal returns. That income would be taxed at a higher rate than the 28 percent that Obama has proposed for corporations.

The Small Business Majority has argued that relatively few small business owners would end up subject to the highest rate. Only 5 percent of the survey's participants say their family incomes were $250,000 or higher.

The higher rates are scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1 when tax cuts from the Bush era expire. It's not yet known if Congress, which meets again after the election, will move to stop the tax increase. What lawmakers do is likely to depend on the outcome of the presidential and congressional elections.

The survey questioned 500 owners between late September and mid-October. Most say their businesses are doing OK or well; about a quarter say business is not good.

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