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Sunshine State News: In Wake of Harvey, Irma and Maria, We Need Tax Reform for Small Businesses’ Recovery

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico have recently experienced complete devastation in some areas of the state due to severe hurricane damage and flooding. We are unfortunately all too familiar with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Each state continues to rightfully focus on safety, rebuilding and economic recovery efforts in order to get back on their feet.

Thankfully, our neighbors have stepped-up to provide states with supplies and donations in the short term. Our federal and state governments have jumped-in to help fund recovery for infrastructure projects like rebuilding roads, buildings, utilities and so forth. Florida alone has an estimated economic cost of more than $100 billion and the Federal Emergency Management Association initially allocated $21 million.

The Florida state Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is helping our member companies recover in multiple ways and hoping to see some relief in the foreseeable future. We facilitated recovery efforts through a designated dispatch line thanks to our member The Berman Companies Inc., a 12-year old Florida company with experience in mitigating disasters. We also are working to help bring supplies to Puerto Rico and accepting donations through

As we overcome these natural disasters, we must continue to stand on solid ground and be able to foresee a brighter future. One 30-year-old opportunity has been presented to our congressional members by passing meaningful tax reform this year. Thankfully, the GOP plan was released Friday and has reportedly been agreed upon between President Trump, the House of Representatives and the Senate.

It is estimated that with meaningful tax reform, we will see a return of more than $4,200 per household annually. This would certainly spur additional economic growth and further enhance recovery efforts that may take years to build back. As we have heard time and time again, small businesses make up the majority of our business economy and employ nearly half of all working Floridians. We need to keep our incentives high and push for smart reform now and in the future.

Our businesses nationwide currently experience a very complex tax code with rates as high as 44.6 percent in Florida. It is estimated that collectively we spend 240 million hours and $19 billion annually to comply with our 30-year old tax code.

Fortunately, we have seen many Florida congressional members take a stance in supporting tax reform as well as the White House. We recently visited Washington D.C. and were excited to hear the positive feedback from elected officials to pass tax reform this year. We strongly encourage the GOP push for a lower corporate and small business tax rate with a 20-25 percent maximum.

We support our U.S. Congress to quickly pass a balanced national budget to the best of their ability, so we can then focus on federal tax reform — one of the most outdated and in desperate need of reform policies we will have seen in decades.

Our Chamber and member companies look forward to a brighter tomorrow and believe tax reform will help us take the next positive step. We encourage voters to call, write, or email elected officials and request their support in storm recovery as well as meaningful tax reform this year.

Julio Fuentes is president and CEO of the Florida state Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, an organization that actively promotes the economic growth and development of Hispanic entrepreneurs and represents the interests of over 604,000 Hispanic-owned businesses across the state. Together, they contribute in excess of $90 billion to Florida’s economy annually.

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