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How the Republican Presidential Candidates Stack Up on Small-Business Taxes The Presidential candidates will likely add to their reform agendas in the weeks ahead. But here's a look at the candidates' existing small-business tax plans.

By Diana Ransom

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

How the Republican Presidential Candidates Stack Up on Small-Business TaxesWhen it comes to landing your vote for President this year, figuring out just how small-business friendly the Republican candidates' tax plans are may be key.

Among the top three factors that could stand in the way of business growth this year, high taxes was number two -- just behind the cost of doing business and ahead of too many regulations -- according to Sage's February Small Business Sentiment survey (pdf).

On the campaign trail so far, each of the Republican Presidential candidates has announced ambitious plans to boost small businesses, a.k.a. "job creators," by overhauling everything from health care to taxes. Though many of the candidates proposed reforms echo each other, their policies on taxes ring decidedly discordant tones -- from slashing the top corporate tax rate to flattening it and switching to a territorial tax system, in which the U.S. would only tax income from operations based in the U.S.

Related: Obama Takes Aim at Corporate Taxes

Although many of these policies may get chalked up to nothing more than lip service, it's certainly possible that today's campaign promises could become tomorrow's Presidential goals and possibly even the law of the land. Here's a sampling of where the Republican candidates stand on small-business taxes:

Mitt Romney:

  • Mitt RomneyContinue the tax cuts passed under Bush. (Without those cuts, the top tax rate would rise to 39.6 percent from 35 percent.)
  • Make permanent, across-the-board 20 percent cut in personal income-tax rates. Under the proposal, the top tax rate would drop to 28 percent from 35 percent and scale back certain credits for upper-income taxpayers.
  • Eliminate interest, dividend and capital-gains taxes for those with adjusted gross incomes below $200,000.
  • Eliminate the estate tax permanently.
  • Cut the corporate rate to 25 percent from 35 percent.
  • Strengthen and make permanent the Research & Development tax credit. Before the credit expired in January, it offset 14 percent of a company's research and development expenses.
  • Switch to a territorial tax system.

Rick Santorum:

  • Rick SantorumReduce the number of income-tax rates to 10 percent and 28 percent. Currently there are six income-tax rates from 10 percent to 35 percent.
  • Halve and flatten the corporate tax rate to 17.5 percent, from 35 percent.
  • Eliminate the corporate income tax for manufacturers -- from 35 percent to zero when manufacturers invest in plant and equipment.
  • Reduce the corporate tax rate on other repatriated income to 5.25 percent from 35 percent.
  • Allow for 100 percent expensing for new business equipment.
  • Lower the capital-gains and dividend tax rates to 12 percent from 15 percent.
  • Retain deductions for charitable giving, healthcare and retirement savings.
  • Increase the Research & Development tax credit to 20 percent from 14 percent and make it permanent.
  • Eliminate the estate tax.

Newt Gingrich:

  • Newt GingrichPrevent the Bush tax cuts from expiring.
  • Eliminate the estate and capital-gains taxes.
  • Reduce the corporate income tax to 12.5 percent from 35 percent.
  • Allow for 100 percent expensing of new equipment.
  • Move toward an optional flat income tax of 15 percent.

Ron Paul:

  • Ron PaulEliminate the income, capital-gains and estate taxes.
  • Repeal the federal tax on gasoline.
  • Increase the mileage reimbursement rates.
  • Offer tax credits to individuals and businesses for the use and production of natural gas vehicles.

Which of these tax policies would you most like to see pass? Tell us how that policy might help your business in the comments section.

Diana Ransom is the former deputy editor of Entrepreneur.com.

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