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Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, replies to a comment from Purple Tree shop owner Sarah Bruch during a meeting of owners of small businesses in Hudson last Thursday. Greg Leaf, right, owner of the Group Leaf marketing and advertising firm, listens. Photo by Randy Hanson
Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, replies to a comment from Purple Tree shop owner Sarah Bruch during a meeting of owners of small businesses in Hudson last Thursday. Greg Leaf, right, owner of the Group Leaf marketing and advertising firm, listens. Photo by Randy Hanson

Congressman touts assistance

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business River Falls, 54022

River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Congressman Ron Kind, who represents Wisconsin's 3rd District, came to Hudson last Thursday to meet with a small group of business people and talk about steps he says Congress has taken to assist small businesses.

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"I'm here to report on what is going on to get the economy back on track," said the La Crosse Democrat.

He highlighted provisions of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, as well as actions this year, that were aimed at small businesses.

They included:

  • Allowing businesses to write-off up to $125,000 of capital expenditures;
  • A five-year carry-back of net operating losses;
  • A 100-percent capital gains tax exclusion for businesses running at a loss this year;
  • The elimination of Small Business Administration loan fees;
  • Raising the SBA loan guarantee to 90 percent; and
  • The HIRE Act, which gives employers an exemption from payroll taxes through the end of 2010 on workers they hire who have been unemployed for at least 60 days, and a bonus for keeping them for longer than a year.

    Kind said the Small Business and Infrastructure Jobs Act that passed the House on March 23 would provide incentives to banks to offer SBA loans and increase the tax deduction for business start-up costs to $20,000. The deduction is now $5,000.

    He said he and colleagues in the "New Democrat Coalition" are urging Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to institute new programs that will unlock credit for small businesses.

    "Small businesses are the backbone of the rural economy, and they are the ones currently suffering the most in the credit markets," Kind said in a written statement that was handed out listing the efforts to assist small businesses.

    Health care act

    Kind said the recently adopted health care act would benefit small businesses that provide health insurance coverage for their employees.

    "If you have 25 or fewer employees, you're going to qualify this year for up to a 35-percent tax credit for the expense of providing coverage for your employees," he said.

    He said the 35 percent tax credit will continue until the new health insurance exchange is up and running in 2014.

    Kind said the exchange will operate like the travel Web sites Orbitz and Travelocity.

    "You'll finally be able to do some comparison shopping," he said. "You'll have health care plans competing for the business of small businesses and family farmers and individuals."

    Businesses with 50 or fewer employees won't be required to provide insurance, Kind said, "because we know how hard it is for small businesses right now just to keep the doors open."

    Low-income workers who don't receive health insurance through their employers will be required to buy insurance, and get a subsidy to do it, after the exchange is operating.

    The act requires insurance companies to put at least 85 percent of premiums into patient care, and spend no more than 15 percent on overhead and administrative costs.

    "It's amazing how many insurance companies are beyond the 85 percent medical-loss ratio today," he said.

    Kind said the more people learn about the health care act the more they are going to like it.

    "I don't know when providing tax credits to small businesses so they can better afford health care for their employees is some big government takeover of health care," he said. "That's what's in the bill. Most small businesses, when they hear it, say this is great."

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