Entrepreneur:Small business only stands to further benefit by participating in these new forward-looking proposals. Working together, we can continue our prosperity and make sure no one is left behind.
Gore: Small businesses appear to be reluctant to use the simple plan established by the Clinton administration to increase availability of retirement programs at smaller firms. Is this a misperception of the reception of the program? If not, what's preventing more small businesses from joining? Is there another approach that a Gore administration would take?
I believe that small businesses want to provide their employees with adequate pension programs. However, too often, the costs are too great.
As president, I will work to implement a 50-percent tax credit for 3 years of qualified contributions to employees' pensions. I also think we should continue to simplify our pension system, so that small businesses can more easily make tax-advantaged savings programs available to their employees. We can also continue reducing unnecessary paperwork and fostering an atmosphere of cooperation.
In the end, less money needs to go to accountants, lawyers, and other consultants. If we can make these minor adjustments, I am confident that small businesses can provide better employee pensions.
Entrepreneur:Tax cuts and tax reform remain popular topics with business owners. What new initiatives would you propose to reduce and simplify taxes for business owners?
Gore: I believe in a fair and progressive tax structure. That is why I have advocated a common sense strategy of targeted tax cuts that spur growth and help working families and small businesses invest in their future, without risking our fiscal discipline and threatening our economic prosperity.
As president, I plan to make the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit permanent and refundable in order to increasingly benefit small businesses. To ease the burden of the estate tax on small-business owners, I support raising the amount of estate tax relief for small businesses and family farms to $5 million for a family ($2.5 million for an individual). With this relief, more than 70 percent of small businesses, if they took full advantage of this policy, would no longer have to pay any estate tax on their small business, and estate taxes will dramatically fall for many more small businesses. And my approach would also make estate taxes fairer. For example, today, because of complicated laws, many couples only get the $1.3 million exemption for singles rather than the $2.6 million for which they are eligible. I would assure that every couple gets their full deduction. I am also committed to working to find other ways to assure that the estate tax is fair and simple for families. Finally, I propose to expand the current estate and capital gains tax deductions for landowners that transfer properties near cities, parks, or wilderness areas to conservation uses.
Entrepreneur:You've won praise for your efforts to restructure government and reduce paperwork for businesses. Yet, earlier this year, OSHA issued a guidance letter on ergonomic standards for telecommuters to a small company in texas that resulted in a firestorm of protest and caused the secretary of labor to rescind the letter. The ergonomic standards are still under review. What stance would a Gore administration take on ergonomics for telecommuters?
Gore: I believe that cooperation is far better than burdensome regulation. Measures that protect workers health and safety and the environment should not be an impediment to economic prosperity; they should be a building block to improve our overall quality of life. Over the past eight years, this new philosophy has worked well for small business.
Under the Clinton-Gore Administration, the incidence of workplace injuries has fallen to its lowest level in history. Our goal has been to make needed regulations as easy to understand and comply with as possible. For example, OSHA has posted on its Internet website new and innovative advisory software to help small businesses understand how to comply with OSHA regulations at practically no cost. The Administration has reinvented OSHA to focus on helping those businesses interested in complying to do so, and directed enforcement only toward those businesses that have demonstrated an unwillingness to comply. As President, I will encourage OSHA to continue reviewing its ergonomics safety and health rules, in order to minimize the burden on small business.
Under a Gore Administration, OSHA will continue to seek ways to improve employee health and safety with little cost or confusion to small businesses.