Here’s What’s in Hillary Clinton’s Plan for Pa.’s Small Businesses

The presidential candidate says the state's small businesses have unnecessary barriers holding them back. Here's how she says she'll help.

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Hillary Clinton says she wants to be the Small Business President, and on Tuesday, she unveiled her ambitious plan for the small businesses of Pennsylvania.

Clinton’s initiative promises to make life easier for the state’s small businesses, which according to the plan represent 98.2% of all business in the state and employ 2.4 million Pennsylvanians.

The plan identifies three areas where the Clinton administration would begin to cut away at governmental red tape: business licensing and fees, tax filing and tax relief, and access to capital.

According to Clinton’s proposal, it may take years for aspiring entrepreneurs to launch a business because of governmental licensing requirements and fees. In Philadelphia, small business owners continually speak out against the inconsistency of licensing requirements and counterintuitive licensing processes that can stifle one’s entrepreneurial spirit. Clinton’s plan says she would push state and local governments to streamline what they call “unnecessary licensing programs,” making starting a business cheaper and easier. But the plan rests on action from the states. So if Pennsylvania works to simplify its licensing system, the state will receive federal funding to support innovative programs and offset forgone licensing revenue.

Because filing taxes is never an easy feat for small businesses, Clinton also wants to the process as easy and fast as printing a bank statement. Clinton would also offer tax relief as part of a broader business tax rewards system in Pennsylvania. A recent Pew study found that Philadelphia, for example, has more tax incentive programs than other cities but it’s not clear how well they work. Clinton business tax rewards system would include a new standard deduction for the state’s small businesses. And with the one standard deduction, businesses won’t have to worry about the painstaking process of tracking and filing each and every form that documents their overhead costs.

And to eliminate as much paperwork as possible, Clinton would also allow “checkbook accounting” for 4 million small businesses across the country with gross receipts under $1 million. And for businesses with $25 million or less in gross receipts, they’ll be able to choose the “cash accounting” method for their accounting and tax filing needs.

The plan also states that small businesses can immediately expense up to $1 million in new investments and also quadruple the start-up tax deduction to lower the cost of starting a business.

And Philadelphia could certainly benefit from increased access to capital throughout underserved pockets of the city. Clinton’s proposal also aims to make it easier for small business owners to secure loans and find investors during any stage of their business. Clinton wants to bring more capital into underserved communities by streamlining regulations for community banks and credit unions and by tapping into online lending platforms. Business owners can also receive capital through financing initiatives like the New Market Tax Credit and the State Small Business Credit Initiative, two programs created to support lending to small businesses.

In recent state rankings for economic performance and business climate, Pennsylvania sits near the bottom for its minimal GDP growth year-over-year and its business friendliness, or lack thereof.

While the commonwealth has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate since 1992, Donald Trump has gained some traction with Pennsylvania voters who say the local economy and bringing jobs back to the state are the issues they care about most this election. But according to Clinton, Trump and his big businesses have made a living ripping off small business.

“While Donald Trump made a career of stiffing small businesses — not because he couldn’t pay them, but because he wouldn’t pay them — Hillary will fight to support small business at every stage of their lifecycle,” the plan says.

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