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Home Front

A new Congress prepares to tackle homebased-business issues.

What issues of concern to homebased entrepreneurs is the 105th Congress, now at the start of its two-year term, likely to undertake? We asked three freshman and two veteran congressional legislators their views.

Representing both sides of the political spectrum, the three newcomers share a common bond: a strong business background. And both veterans have proven records of supporting home-based entrepreneurs.

Republican Christopher Cannon, the newly elected con- gressman represent- ing Utah's third district, has owned Cannon Industries for six years. This venture capital firm works almost exclusively with start-up businesses, concentrating in the high-tech industry. His business experiences have convinced Cannon that simplification of tax and regulatory codes is what he should advocate during his congressional tenure.

"We have some heinous problems with government regulation. The principle one is taxation," says Cannon, who would like to restructure and simplify the corporate tax code so both companies and the government do not waste so much time and money on the issue.

Ideally, he would like to simplify the entire tax code, which would make the home office deduction unnecessary. Recognizing that this is an extremely complex and time-consuming undertaking, Cannon sees a need for adjustments to the codes regarding home offices.

"We need to even the playing field for small companies, and the home office deduction is one of the things that can do it," Cannon says. "Where you do business is really in your head and quite often on a cellular phone. If a place is dedicated to business, it should get the deduction."

Susan Collins, recently elected Republican senator from Maine, knows cost was a major stumbling block preventing the passage of home office deduction legislation during the 104th Congress (the Senate Ways and Means committee estimates proposed legislation would cut $1.9 billion in government revenues over 10 years).

"There is a lot of interest in Congress in reducing the tax burden for middle-income taxpayers, and I think a lot of homebased business owners fall into that category. I'm suggesting this should be one of the proposals on the table as we look at tax cuts," says Collins, who served as the executive director of the Center for Family Business at Husson College in Bangor, Maine, before her election. She also was the New England Administrator for the Small Business Administration in 1992. And Collins' family has operated a small lumber and building supplies retail business--S.W. Collins Co. Inc.--in Caribou, Maine, for five generations.

"Success will depend on homebased business owners making their voices heard in Washington," Collins continues. "There will be a certain amount of money set aside for tax relief as part of the budget resolution, and homebased businesses need to make sure they are heard when decisions on tax relief measures are made."

Collins is planning to establish six state offices to act as information and help centers throughout the state of Maine, as well as a Web site, and encourages homebased entrepreneurs to express their opinions at these locations.

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This article was originally published in the February 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Home Front.

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