Time is flying and we’re nearing the end of Week 6! As the House Finance chair, I’m prioritizing finding ways to help small businesses flourish.
Small businesses are the backbone of our communities, but the value and the role they play in our economy are sometimes undervalued because small businesses are — in fact — small. Nonetheless, there is nothing small about the impact they have on our communities and state.
Small businesses help strengthen our local economies and contribute greatly to the stability of our state economy. They create jobs, spur innovation, and provide opportunities for Washingtonians to succeed. When small businesses do well, we do well.
Now, it’s time for us to help small businesses succeed.
Here’s what we’re doing for small businesses
In order to gain a better understanding of the challenges facing small businesses, I began this session by hosting a work session in the House Finance Committee focusing on small business tax reform. We heard compelling testimony from many members of the community on what we can do to foster small businesses in Washington state. Here are some of the bills my colleagues and I produced as a result of the work session that passed out of the House with bipartisan support:
HB 2959 – This is the bill I’m sponsoring to help simplify the process of paying taxes for Washington businesses. Right now, a small business that might have multiple locations (or deliver to multiple locations) in Anacortes, Mount Vernon and Bellingham would have to file local B&O taxes three times for each city, then once with the state. The process is time-consuming, confusing and potentially costly with separate filing and licensing fees. Under my bill, the Department of Revenue would work with stakeholders to develop a plan to build an online portal where businesses could pay all of their local B&O taxes in one place, provided that the cities in which they operate opt-in to the service. Businesses could also take care of all their licensing in one place, as well. We want to encourage Washington businesses to expand to other cities and regions, but the burdensome process of keeping track of all your individual tax filings might be enough to discourage the single parent who is trying to be an entrepreneur and raise a family at the same time. This task force will explore ways to make operating a business easier for Washingtonians.
HB 2540 – This would modify the penalty for businesses that receive tax breaks that do not submit their annual survey or report. Over the last 10 years, the Legislature has required taxpayers to file the Annual Tax Incentive Survey or the Annual Tax Incentive Report in order to qualify for a variety of new economic development-related tax preferences, or in some cases, when extending existing economic development-related preferences. This can be confusing for small businesses because there are currently 32 economic development-related tax preferences that require one of these supplemental filings. A taxpayer that qualifies for a preference but does not submit the Survey or Report is subject to a penalty of 100 percent of the tax preference claimed in addition to interest. This would reduce the penalty for failure to submit an annual survey or report from 100 percent of the tax preference claimed to 35 percent.
HB 2565 – This would limit local sales and use tax changes to three per year. Small business owners often have a difficult time tracking changes in local tax rates, particularly for jurisdictions where they only occasionally do work or deliver products. Even inadvertent errors due to an unnoticed rate change can lead to costly penalties. This bill provides modest relief to overburdened entrepreneurs who struggle to stay up-to-date with potentially hundreds of local sales and use tax rates.
Now do your part — shop local
While I’m working to support small businesses at the state level, you can do your part to support small businesses on your Saturday afternoons. Shopping local supports the economy and families throughout the supply chain. For instance, when you buy produce at your local farmers market, you support the family that owns the produce stand, the farming families who grow the produce, the workers who work there, and the truck drivers who deliver the produce to market.
Your local chamber has a wealth of information about small businesses in your community. I encourage you to check them out and do your part.
San Juan County
- Lopez Island Chamber of Commerce
- Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce
- San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce
- Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce
- Burlington Chamber of Commerce
- Anacortes Chamber of Commerce
- Bellingham/Whatcom County Chamber of Commerce
Join our Telephone Town Hall next Monday!
Next Monday Rep. Jeff Morris and I are hosting a live telephone town hall next Monday, Feb. 22 at 6:05 p.m. This is an opportunity for you to call in and ask us live questions over the phone about the issues you care about.
We will be calling a random sample of constituents in our district to invite them to participate. If you don’t get a call, you can join us by calling 1-877-229-8493 and entering the ID code 18646 when prompted.
What: Telephone town hall with Reps. Morris and Lytton
When: Monday, Feb. 22 at 6:05 p.m.
How: Call 1-877-229-8493 and enter 18646 when prompted
As bills continue to move through the process, I encourage you to continue to share your thoughts and concerns. Feel free to email me or call my office at (360) 786-7800. I truly appreciate the input that I receive.