(Co-chair of Businesses for Responsible Tax Reform is Frank Knapp, president and CEO of the SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce)


Conan Knoll

A survey conducted by Businesses for Responsible Tax Reform of its network of small businesses finds 70% have lost 50% or more of their revenue, 40% in “shelter-in-place” regions forced to close, 30% in non-shelter-in-place areas forced to close because of severe drop in consumer demand; they are desperate for relief from Congress to keep them alive.

Washington, D.C., March 23, 2020—A new survey from Businesses for Responsible Tax Reform finds small businesses are feeling the immediate economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis: 88% of the more than 500 small business owners who responded to the survey have lost revenue, with 70% reporting they have lost 50% or more of their revenue. Forty percent of survey respondents whose businesses are in shelter-in-place areas have already closed, and 30% of businesses in non-shelter-in-place areas have been forced to close because of the severe drop in consumer demand.

Small business owners across the country are open to a number of policy solutions to keep them alive and want urgent action from Congress.

The Survey Monkey survey, fielded Sunday with small business owners in Businesses for Responsible Tax Reform’s network, finds respondents are struggling to keep their doors open during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Small businesses are losing money hand over fist through no fault of their own. They’re cutting hours, laying off employees and shutting their doors. Many don’t know if they’ll ever open them again,” said Anne Zimmerman, CPA, co-chair of Businesses for Responsible Tax Reform and founder & owner of Zimmerman & Co CPAs Inc. in Ohio. “They need Congress to deliver smart relief right away. Without it, the future is bleak.”

Major survey findings include:

  • 91% of survey respondents say COVID-19 has directly impacted their business
  • 88% of respondents have lost revenue due to the pandemic, with nearly 70% saying they have lost 50% or more of their revenue
  • Of survey respondents whose businesses are in “shelter-in-place” regions, 40% have been forced to close
  • For survey respondents whose businesses are not in shelter-in-place regions, 30% have experienced such sharp drops in customer demand that they have been forced to close 
  • For businesses still open, 17% have been forced to lay off employees and 38% have had to cut hours for employees
  • Cash flow is the largest concern for small business owners, with more than 80% of survey respondents saying they face cash flow challenges because of the pandemic

Additionally, the survey finds small business owners are open to a variety of policy remedies, with their main focus on urgent action from Congress. Short-term policy solutions small business owners support include: 

  • Nearly 90% support Congress creating unrestricted federal grants to businesses with 50 or fewer employees
  • 87% support a deferral of interest and payments on all federally-backed small business loans for at least six months and encouragement for traditional banks to do the same
  • More than 80% support requiring lenders to refinance all federally-backed small business loans with lower interest, longer-term loans with no refinancing fees and encouragement for traditional banks to do the same 
  • 80% support direct stimulus payments to individuals with incomes of $125,000 or below and to families making $250,000 or below

BRTR is concerned that relief that includes loans to small businesses will not be as effective as giving them cash payments. Loans are time consuming and could place more debt burden on small business owners during hard economic times. 

“Small businesses have a hard time getting loans during the best of times. During a crisis, there will be little appetite to give small-dollar loans to small businesses, particularly those with subprime credit or no credit history,” Zimmerman said. “Officials are asking consumers to keep their distance and in many places are asking small businesses to close. We must use the Small Business Administration to put money directly into their hands now to help them survive and continue to pay their employees and their bills.”

Economic recovery for small businesses will be a marathon, not a sprint, and there will need to be long-term solutions. One such long-term solution, a payroll tax abatement or deferral program, finds nearly 85% support. But Congress must focus on short-term solutions that get money into the hands of small businesses first.

Small business owners are speaking up and their message is clear: Congress must do something to help small businesses and the communities they serve. With small business assistance in place, small businesses can focus on what they do best — creating innovation and jobs to lead our nation out of economic turmoil. 

Click here to view the full report.

To schedule an interview: Contact Conan Knoll, conan@emcstrategies.com, (530) 864-7014.


About Businesses for Responsible Tax Reform
Businesses for Responsible Tax Reform is a coalition of business leaders calling for tax reform that truly benefits America’s small business owners. We are dedicated to ensuring tax reform is fiscally responsible, creates a level playing field for all businesses, grows the economy and works for our nation’s 30 million small business owners. Learn more about us on our website and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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