May 17, 2011
Self-Employed Favor Taxing the Rich
by Kent Hoover
Most self-employed Americans aren’t rich—maybe that’s why they don’t have a problem with raising taxes on people who are.
A survey of National Association for the Self-Employed members found that 55 percent favored increasing income tax rates for households making more than $250,000 as a way to reduce the federal budget deficit. That’s noteworthy because most groups representing small businesses in Washington, D.C., contend that such a tax hike would hurt small-business owners, most of whom pay taxes on their profits at the individual level. The exceptions on this issue so far have been relatively new small-business groups, such as Small Business Majority and Main Street Alliance, which are more liberal than traditional business groups.
NASE, which was founded in 1981, represents self-employed individuals and microbusinesses. Its members have lost confidence in both President Barack Obama and Congress when it comes to dealing with the federal government’s huge budget deficits. Two thirds of the 500 NASE members who took the survey have no confidence that Congress will make the right decisions on the deficit, and 60 percent have no confidence in the president.
More than 74 percent of NASE members think the deficit needs to be addressed immediately. More than 63 percent think cutting federal spending is the best way to reduce the deficit, while 32 percent think both spending cuts and tax increases are needed. The remaining 5 percent favor tax increases alone.
But when asked about specific recommendations to address the deficit, 55 percent favored phasing out the Bush-era tax cuts for wealthy Americans and 60 percent favored increasing the cap on wages subject to Social Security taxes above the current cap of $106,800. Another 65 percent favored minimizing Social Security benefits for upper-income recipients.
Nearly 60 percent of NASE members opposed the House Republican Medicare reform proposal, which would require senior citizens to purchase private health insurance with premiums subsidized by the federal government.
Sizable majorities opposed raising the federal gasoline tax or imposing a national sales tax.
More than 57 percent supported cutting defense spending, and 56 percent supported cutting all discretionary spending in areas such as the arts, education, and foreign aid.
Nearly 60 percent favor repealing or defunding health care reform.
NASE executive director Kristie Arslan said the survey shows that self-employed Americans aren’t confident that policymakers will “step up and make the political sacrifices necessary to get the job done” when it comes to reducing deficits.
“Day in and day out, the self-employed are required to manage their budget and balance their books,” she said. “It is irresponsible and puts our economy at future risk for our federal government not to do the same.”
Kent Hoover is the Washington bureau chief for bizjournals.