Senate package could provide assistance to struggling small businesses

Ioannis Pashakis//March 16, 2021

Senate package could provide assistance to struggling small businesses

Ioannis Pashakis//March 16, 2021

Four Republican Pennsylvania senators plan to introduce a series of bills they say will provide financial and tax relief for the state’s small businesses.

The package, titled Prioritize PA: Small Businesses, includes seven bills designed to reinvigorate Pennsylvania’s small businesses hurt by the pandemic and state mitigation orders.

Senators Ryan Aument, R-Lancaster; Judy Ward, R-Blair, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon; Camera Bartolotta, R-Beaver, Greene, Washington; and Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York, announced the package during a press conference in Lititz on Monday.

Prioritize PA includes a five-bill package introduced by Aument. It includes no-interest loans for struggling small businesses, a tax credit program and a temporary waiver of fees for various state licensing.

The package also includes a bill that would allow businesses to deduct property taxes from the state’s Corporate Net Income or Personal Income Tax liability.

The final bill in the package is a three-year option to offset earnings from prior years or future years against current year losses and get refunds for prior years or cut future tax bills.

The bills are an attempt to provide both immediate and long-term relief to small businesses harmed by the Wolf Administration’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts, according to Aument.

“As we celebrate moving toward herd immunity, reopening our economy, and returning to a sense of normalcy again, we must not forget our small businesses, particularly those in the hospitality industry, that have suffered immensely throughout this pandemic,” he said.

Two other bills, already introduced to their respective committees, are also part of Prioritize PA.

Senate Bill 368, sponsored by Bartolotta and Ward, would make several targeted changes to Pennsylvania’s Tax Code. The changes would allow small businesses to take a net loss against other sources of income unrelated to their business’ income, allow small businesses paying their taxes through personal income to carry their losses forward and allow businesses to carry back losses to previous tax years.

For a business to carry back their losses, they would need to have suffered net operating losses in 2018 or 2019 and were profitable in any of the five years prior to the loss. If the businesses first loss since 2017 was because of the pandemic, they will be able to request a refund against a previous profitable tax year.

“Many small businesses that have been profitable for years are now seeing losses that are entirely due to COVID-19. Small shops and mom-and-pop operations do not have massive amounts of savings; they are holding on by a thread,” Ward said. “We cannot allow these families to lose everything they have worked so hard to build.”

Senate Bill 32 is also part of the package and is sponsored by Phillips-Hill. If it was passed into law, it would create an Independent Office of the Repealer to eliminate outdated regulations. The bill would reverse the trend of growing regulations and the negative impact they have on the economy, according to Phillips-Hill

“Regulations are a self-made problem that are, in part, the result of choices made by the legislative branch of government,” she said. “As a result, state agencies develop rules and regulations that place new burdens on small businesses.”

The package is already seeing support from Pennsylvania’s small business community. On Monday, the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses released a statement on the package, with Greg Biryla, NFIB’s senior state director, noting that it offers both immediate relief and structural reforms.

“The success of our broader recovery and local economies across Pennsylvania depends upon the success and prosperity of our small businesses,” said Biryla. “A year since the pandemic was first declared, small businesses continue to navigate an unprecedented, unpredictable and unforgiving landscape. The Prioritize PA: Small Businesses legislative initiative provides immediate relief for industries hit hardest, but also advances structural reforms to ease regulatory costs and increase new opportunities for small businesses across the Keystone State.”