Lawmakers protect small businesses

By SLADE BLACKWELL / Guest Columnist

Since Republicans took office in 2010, one of our top priorities has been enacting legislation that will create jobs and grow Alabama’s private sector economy.

The 2014 legislative session marked the end of one of the most productive, pro-business quadrenniums in the state’s history. Although the federal government seems intent on more taxes and more red tape for small business owners, the Alabama Legislature recognizes that small businesses are the backbone of the state’s economy and will continue working to protect our pro-business economic climate.

A major part of ensuring economic success in Alabama is making sure we have an adequate workforce to fill job needs.

The Alabama Future Workforce Initiative will provide opportunities for students across the state to gain the knowledge and skills they need to secure a job, while also providing financial incentives to ensure these programs are focused on training the workers needed to continue to grow Alabama’s economy.

Similarly, creating the Alabama Workforce Council, a top priority of Gov. Robert Bentley, will help organize and coordinate the workforce development efforts in the state in order to make sure our students are adequately prepared to fulfill the state’s most pressing job needs.

Additional laws passed in 2014 that will assist small businesses include the Small Business Tax Relief Act. This law will increase the sales tax threshold at which businesses must begin making estimated state sales tax payments from $1,000 per month to $2,500 per month. The proposal will allow 4,000 to 6,000 small businesses to remit sales tax payments after collecting sales revenues instead of fronting the estimated payment to the government as required by current law and will provide small businesses with an immediate, one-time tax savings of up to $2,500 this year, which would result in an approximate $4.6 million into Alabama’s economy.

The Business Tax Streamlining Act gives businesses two additional options for filing their business personal property returns that will simplify the process.  The options include a centralized online filing system and a shortened tax form.  Previously, business owners had to individually file these taxes in each county where they did business, and had to fill out long forms that often cost much more time and resources than the actual tax payment itself.

Alabama’s “Crowdfunding” Law will create additional opportunities for entrepreneurs to raise capital for starting a small business, a significant prospect since more traditional financing options are limited in the current economic climate.

Last but not least, the Tax Elimination Act gives the Alabama Department of Revenue the authority to suspend taxes and fees when the cost of collecting such taxes and fees exceeds the amount of revenue brought in by the tax or fee.

Slade Blackwell is an Alabama state senator from Birmingham.