HOUSTON, July 5, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- From June 16th-17th, U.S. Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE) and over 100 professionals, including current and former heads of state, executive officers and leaders of U.S. businesses, CPA partners and business advisors from across the nation gathered for alliantgroup's Economic, Legislative & Policy Summit—the latest event in alliantgroup's ThinkTank series. During the two day event, economic and policy experts gathered to provide their forecast for anticipated legislative action, U.S. economic performance and broader tax policy issues to emerge in 2016 and 2017.
Among those in attendance included former Alabama Governor Bob Riley, former Missouri Governor Kit Bond, former U.S. congressmen Jim Ramstad and Rick Lazio, former Senior Counsel to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee Dean Zerbe, and former IRS commissioners Mark W. Everson and Steven Miller.
On the second day of the event, Senator Coons gave the keynote address, covering a broad range of topics on the minds of CPAs and businesses in an open "town hall" style session. The senator focused heavily on economic issues, discussing at length the major challenges facing both entrepreneurs and the nation's small and mid-sized businesses in their ability to thrive in the face of growing global competition. Drawing on his own personal experience as the son of a small business owner and as the in-house counsel for his stepfather's company, Senator Coons expressed his admiration for those willing to take the risk of starting their own business, tying that entrepreneurial spirit to the historical success of the American economy.
"The folks that have most excited me in my life in the private sector, in the public sector and in the nonprofit sector are the Americans that have more courage than I do because they go and start small businesses," said Coons.
During the session, the senator further elaborated on the vital role that small and mid-sized businesses play in shaping broader U.S. economic performance. Noting that small and mid-sized companies are traditionally the greatest contributors to job growth, innovation and overall competitiveness, Coons emphasized the importance of creating a business environment more conducive to their success. Prior to the senator's address, several of the event's on-hand economic and policy experts had noted a drop in the creation of the number of startups in recent years, pointing to an overbearing regulatory environment (be it through stringent bank lending policies or other regulatory burdens) that has in effect reduced many small and mid-sized businesses' access to capital. With the ability to fund their new enterprises severely hampered, many would-be entrepreneurs have been squeezed out by counterintuitive economic policy.
"We give all these great speeches on the floor of the Senate about small business, and how proud we are of small business and how excited we are about it," said Coons. "But if you start a small business, the chances that you are going to fail is about 80 to 90 percent, and the advice you get from your CPA and your ability to access capital are absolutely essential things that determine if you succeed and thrive, or join the large heap of Americans that have tried something big and bold, but in the end have to go on to something else."
"If you speak anytime with small businesses, you know that tax compliance and understanding the tax code, and the incentives we provide in the tax code, are not well-aligned with the things that will make us competitive in the short-term or the long-term," said Coons.
Seeking to reverse this trend and to also address the flight of American jobs to foreign shores, Senator Coons highlighted the importance of Congress to work together to find bipartisan solutions to very real challenges facing the nation. As evidence of what can be accomplished through compromise, Senator Coons listed the permanent extension and two key expansions of the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit as the kind of smart, bipartisan fiscal policy that can be achieved when both parties work in the interest of the American people.
The first of these modifications signed into law this past December—the AMT turnoff—allows companies with less than $50 million in annual gross receipts to claim the credit against their alternative minimum tax (AMT). The second modification—the startup provision—was in fact originally proposed by Senator Coons and allows businesses with less than $5 million in gross receipts to take the credit (capped at $250,000) against their payroll taxes. According to Coons, neither provision would have seen the light of day if it had not been for the willingness of members of Congress to find common ground.
"If you listen to each other hard enough, work together hard enough, you can get things like this done," said Coons. "The only reason this R&D Tax Credit extension against AMT and against your W-2 or payroll tax liability got done was a whole lot of listening."
In addition to the session with Senator Coons, the summit offered an in-depth look at the current state of the U.S. economy, provided attendees with an overview of potential legislative and tax policy changes on the horizon for 2016, and offered an update on the state of the IRS and its renewed areas of focus. In particular, the economic update was one of the summit's main highlights, with Lazio and Private Equity and M&A Advisor Neeraj Mital leading an interactive panel on major economic trends. Among those discussed included the reduced rate of GDP growth in recent years, a trend that the panel connected to the overall drop in worker productivity and in the number of qualified science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workers in the current labor pool. The nation's current labor woes were echoed by CEOs and other business leaders in attendance, reemphasizing the importance of a robust R&D Tax Credit that would provide businesses the added financial means to be more competitive when trying to attract the best talent rather than just outsourcing technical jobs overseas.
"I would like to thank Senator Coons and everyone who took the time to attend this event," said alliantgroup CEO Dhaval Jadav. "Our goal in hosting these conferences is to provide thought leadership to our CPA firms and the businesses they serve. By providing our partner CPAs and businesses the information they need to stay ahead of emerging economic and policy trends, it is our hope that we are offering another avenue to ensure their continued success."
alliantgroup's mission is one of education and awareness—we exist to help industry organizations, U.S. businesses and the CPA firms that advise them, take full advantage of all federal and state tax credits, incentives and deductions available to them. Our government has legislated these powerful incentive programs to help businesses grow and successfully compete both in the U.S. and abroad. We are proud to have helped over 18,000 businesses claim more than $4 billion in tax incentives. alliantgroup's headquarters is in Houston, Texas, with offices across the country including New York, Boston, Chicago, Orange County, Sacramento, Orlando, Indianapolis and Washington, D.C.
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