Ways and Means Proposes Permanent Break for Small Biz

Preserving deductions for capital expenditures could help small businesses plan for a growth future.
David RosenbaumMarch 21, 2013

The divide between big and small business seems to grow more dramatic by the day.

Even as the Duke University/CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook Survey reports that on average, “U.S. finance chiefs expect to increase their capital spending” in the next 12 months, the National Federation of Independent Businesses’s (NFIB) March Small Business Economic Trends report says that only 5% of its responding members thought this was a good time to “expand facilities”; that is, increase capital spending.

However, in terms of taxation, 2013 would be a good year for small businesses to make capital investments, as the American Taxpayer Relief Act, passed January 1 as part of the fiscal cliff deal, hiked the immediate Section 179 deduction businesses can take for capital purchases from 2012’s limit of $139,000 to $500,000. The deduction helps small businesses afford to buy or lease business-critical but expensive equipment and software. That is the good news.

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The bad news is that the deduction limit will collapse to $25,000 in 2014. The message to small business seemingly is to make hay while the sun is (briefly) shining.

The 2013 bump in the Section 179 deduction “is probably something you’d want to take advantage of if you’re a small business,” says Jamie Sutherland, president of U.S. operations for Xero online accounting, which targets a small-business audience. And, he adds as a provider, “It’s probably a good time to upgrade your software and services.”

Last week, however, House Ways and Means Committee chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) called (along with other pro–small-business measures), for “making permanent section 179 expensing,” which would allow “small businesses to deduct immediately investments in new equipment and property up to $250,000.”

If Camp’s proposal is adopted, making the Section 179 deduction permanent would provide a measure of tax certainty, the absence of which NFIB members identified in the February Economic Trends report as the “single most important problem” for small business.

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