Helping Small Businesses by Making Their Lives Harder

It’s as if, even when they’re claiming to be legislating on behalf of small businesses, Obama and the Democrats can’t resist binding small businesses:

But under a little-publicized provision in the bill, mom-and-pop owners of triple-deckers, duplexes, condos and other such rental real estate will have to obtain the names, addresses and federal tax identification numbers of many of their snowplow operators, electricians, painters and other such service providers.
If the landlord pays such a contractor a total of at least $600 for the year, the landlord will generally have to issue that contractor a special tax form, called a Form 1099 (or “ten ninety-nine” by tax professionals). The landlord will have to list on the form the amount the contractor was paid for the year, and send a copy of that form to the IRS.

When hiring workers, in this way, businesses are acting as consumers, not as contractors; it’s not as if they charge renters a markup on top of handyman bills. But to clueless Democrats (and not a few establishment Republicans, I’m sure), anybody who profits from any activity is a target for taxes or assistance in collecting taxes. It will now be that much more difficult for Americans to start business operations involving rental properties and to hire tradesmen and workers to maintain them.
On the margins, the decision of whether to hire somebody or to do repairs one’s self will tip toward the latter. There will also be increased incentive to hire off-the-books tradesmen rather than small operations that are striving to follow the rules. Finally, although the news report explains that the government hopes to recoup $2.5 billion in taxes over the next decade, by this move, it seems not to be questioned what the real cost to affected businesses will be.
The only rational justification for this move, that I can see, is that the government is trying to fund its incompetent stimulus programs by squeezing the private sector so that it doesn’t have to shave its own programs. The problem is that even tax-cheating small businesses contribute to the economy, while government is all absorption.

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11 years ago

Defending tax cheats as some kind of jobs program for your own industry? Nice. That’s a new low over here.

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