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State Representative Paul Thissen

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100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
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Posted: Feb 12 2016 9:39AM
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DFL Legislators Unveil Next Generation Main Street Act to Help Small Businesses Thrive


SAINT PAUL, MINNThis morning at the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce legislative forum House DFL Leader Paul Thissen and State Rep. Paul Rosenthal (DFL – Bloomington) announced the “Next Generation Main Street Act” and an array of proposals designed to support small businesses across the state. Thissen and Rosenthal worked with Minnesota small business owners to bring forward initiatives that will reduce costly audits, simplify tax filing for businesses, and make it easier for owners to transfer their businesses to a next generation owner.

 

“When our small businesses thrive so do our local economies. The success of small business owners is a key to ensuring that our economy works for everyone and not just the well-connected few,” said Thissen. “We listened to small businesses over the past year and have put together package of bills that respond to some of the practical challenges they face in managing and expanding their businesses.”

 

“Running a small business is a lot of work and business owners would rather focus their energy on building and growing their business than getting mired in an expensive audit,” said Rosenthal. “These are common sense proposals designed to reduce red tape and hopefully will allow small business owners to focus on the priorities that will help them prosper.”

Thissen and Rosenthal’s proposals include the following:

 

Supporting Small Business Start-Ups & Entrepreneurs:

  • Make sure that every person that starts a small business in Minnesota is contacted and provided information about the resources available to them to navigate sometimes complicated regulatory requirements as well as potential development loans, grants, and technical expertise.

  • Assist business start-ups with gap financing through the Minnesota Initiative Foundations. These loans can help leverage additional investments in new businesses.

Helping With Succession Planning

  • Provide grants to Small Business Development Centers to provide transaction services to business owners and next generation, non-family proprietors to help them take over a business.

  • Assist with succession planning, helping match rural business owners looking to exit their business with business managers looking to buy and run their own business. This concept has proved successful in Nebraska.

  • Provide additional funding to Minnesota Initiative Foundations who help provide gap financing to maintain existing businesses as they transition to new ownership.

Streamlining Audits:

  • Change statutes so the Department of Revenue “may” rather than “must” assign penalties.

  • Waive penalties for minor or inadvertent compliance issues (less than $50).

  • Not penalize businesses for actions taken in reliance on a previous audit.

  • Authorize the Department of Revenue to issue private letter rulings to allow small businesses to get advice in advance of an audit rather than after the fact.

Simplifying Tax Filing for Small Businesses:

  • Enact federal tax conformity so that Minnesota businesses can file taxes without delay and uncertainty in 2016.

  • Make tax conformity automatic so that the annual uncertainty over what rules apply for state taxpayers is eliminated. (House Democrats supported automatic tax conformity last year, but Republicans refused to include it in the House tax bill).

  • Fully conform on section 179 expensing, easing tax filing burdens and providing tax relief to small businesses and farmers on their capital purchases.

  • Simplify sales tax compliance and lower costs by providing a refund for costs that a small business might incur by using a third party vendor or automated system to collect and remit the tax on their behalf.

Thissen and Rosenthal coordinated with business owners across the state in developing their proposals.

 

"As a small business owner, I know how challenging it can be for aspiring entrepreneurs to start up, maintain, and grow a new business,” said Daniel Swenson-Klatt, owner of the Butter Bakery Café. “Streamlining the audit process to focus on education and improving business practices, rather than penalizing business owners trying to do the right thing, will help those of us just starting out."

 

"Small businesses are the key economic contributors to most of our neighborhoods and small communities in Minnesota," says Greg Bergman, Regional Director of the North Central Small Business Development Center. "With the expected coming wave of business owner retirements we need to work hand in hand with business owners and prospective buyers to retain and grow our small local businesses."

 

Thissen and Rosenthal said the legislation would be introduced for the start of the 2016 session and hoped they would garner bipartisan support.

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