Small Businesses Need Tax Policy Consideration

Guest Correspondence

Without a doubt, Sarasota County is one of the most prominent counties in the U.S. because of our quality of life. We live on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, have a number of diverse communities that are rapidly growing, thriving businesses, tourism, the list can go on, and it’s we who have impacted this amazing community. Though we’ve seen so much improvement thanks to the initiatives taken to make these opportunities happen, we’re always going to face a budget—one that involves our taxpayer dollars.

Understandably, we need money to accomplish the goals our commission has sought this year, and raising taxes is one way to make this happen quicker. Though an increased tax seems simple, our small business owners, who are our county’s bread and butter, can speak otherwise. Business owners are asking, does the board need to increase taxes or are they simply funding wants? What fiscally sound and conservative parameters were set in putting this budget together? Are they applying business principles and raising taxes as an absolute last resort?

This brings up another question on what should be prioritized and what should be delayed. Amenities were a conversation when deciding what could be done with our taxpayer dollars. Yes, everyone would like to see these improvements come into effect, but some of these ideas counteract with other high priorities that are on their list; one being small business assistance.

What will be the impact on small businesses if a public service tax were to come into effect? This cost was not identified by county staff and no one asked for it. A decision that will increase taxes on small businesses will do the opposite of assisting. In fact, there is no approved plan for assisting small businesses.

Though the commission still has time to figure things out, what we need to understand is how we’re handling the monies we have. Though there are a number of different goals the commission would like to accomplish, which I applaud them for, we also need to be realistic. We need to think about the long-term effects our county will face if we settle on things like tax increases because it is the easiest thing to do. Cutting expenses and telling folks no is hard, but we have to acknowledge the fact that we can’t have everything all at once all of the time. This is how small businesses operate every day.

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation.

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