What Are Small Businesses’ Post-Election Priorities?

December 5 — The Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index for the latest quarter asked small business owners what priorities are paramount for the incoming U.S. Congress, including several questions asked following the recent midterm elections.

When asked to forecast their operating environment in the coming, 35 percent of respondents said it will be better (down 10 percent from 2016), and 55 percent forecasted no change (43 percent in 2016); 10 percent said it would get worse (11 percent in 2016). In addition, roughly half of those surveyed said the actions Congress will take next year will have no impact on their businesses, compared to about one quarter of respondents in 2016 who were asked a similar question regarding the new President and Congress.

In April 2018, the Small Business Index survey included a question about owners’ views of the recent tax reform, with 39 percent responding that they didn’t know how the tax bill would affect their businesses; 27 percent did not expect it to benefit them. Seven months later, taxes continue to be a key issue among small business owners. When asked to list the most important issue they would like to see addressed by the new Congress, 29 percent highlighted taxes as the top issue, with 12 percent listing healthcare and 11 percent saying government regulation. When asked what congressional actions will be most important for their businesses, 74 percent said actions relating to tax codes and regulations, while 61 percent said overall small business regulation and 60 percent said actions related to healthcare.

“With the increases we’ve seen in business owners’ revenues and the high degree of confidence business owners have in their cash flow, it’s nor surprising that taxes remain a key issue for them,” said Mark Vitner, Wells Fargo managing director and senior economist. “While the number of business owners that don’t expect changes to their operating environment remains high, most see the current environment as very good and many business owners are looking to expand their business in 2019.”

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