Fran Tarkenton is the founder of Tarkenton Financial and OneMoreCustomer.com and a Job Creators Alliance member.
If you turn on the TV, open a newspaper, or surf the Internet, you're likely to be deluged with political commentary and coverage. From issues of foreign policy to government entitlement programs, the debate has been white-hot—particularly around the issue of taxes. Recently, former Gov. Mitt Romney received a lot of attention for comments he made at a fundraiser in May about the 47 percent of Americans who pay no federal income tax. President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress have proposed raising taxes on the wealthy. Oftentimes, what should be a very complex debate is boiled down to a sound-bite or a bumper sticker. But that distracts from the real issue. It may not fit on a bumper sticker, but we need comprehensive tax reform.
Job Creators Alliance, of which I am a member, has consistently supported simplifying the tax code for individuals and businesses by eliminating loop holes that favor certain groups. This type of plan will go a long way in getting the country on the right track and ensure that the United States will be able to compete in the global marketplace. We must put ourselves in a position where we have the ability to create jobs, foster growth, and promote the development of small businesses across the country. We believe that we cannot afford to raise taxes on our nation's job creators at a time when so many business owners are struggling to keep the lights on and the doors open.
By now, most people know that the tax rates enacted in 2001 and 2003 are expected to expire at the end of this year. If they are not extended, tax rates will rise. At this delicate stage in the recovery, raising taxes would be unwise. Uncertainty over tax rates makes small businesses hesitant to expand, and hire new workers. Congress and the president should encourage job creation and economic growth by extending current tax rates.
The broader point is that taxes shouldn't be raised on anyone—either by default or proactively. President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress are calling for an increase in the taxes of individuals who make over $250,000 per year. But consider that more than 75 percent of small businesses pay their annual taxes classified as "individuals," and that this tax increase would impact over half of all net business income. And when small businesses create 64 percent of new jobs in this country and when they employ almost half of all American workers, taxing them more wouldn't help create a single job. That's tough to fit onto a bumper sticker.
The 2012 presidential campaign is moving full steam ahead, and there is sure to be sound-bites and spin on both sides. But amidst all the distractions, politicians should remember that the number one issue is jobs. The tax reform debate may be ethereal or confusing to some, but all Americans will see and feel the direct impact of higher taxes on job creators. Impeding small businesses' ability to invest, expand and hire with higher taxes would essentially choke off our recovery at precisely the time we need entrepreneurs and job creators to jumpstart the engine of the American economy.
The need for comprehensive tax reform is too vital to be caught in the middle of partisanship or—even worse—relegated to a bumper sticker.