Portland mayor candidates respond to business questions

Business News update: Last week the Portland Business Alliance recently released responses to its first round of candidate questionnaires. We list two key small business questions from the questionnaire to show how the candidates responded. Please view the whole report and all questions here

BUSINESS LICENSE TAX: The City of Portland and Multnomah County are two of only a small number of communities nationally that have a local business income tax. The Alliance has been working for years to reduce the burden of this tax on small, owner-operated businesses that are particularly hard hit. While some progress has been made, the conversation has stalled during the recession.

Business Tax Question: Do you support reducing the impact of the business license tax on small businesses by increasing the Owners Compensation Deduction to $125,000?

Eileen Brady:
Yes. I believe Portland should be the best city in the country to start a small business. I support the plan adopted by the City in 2007 to increase the Owners Compensation Deduction to $125,000.

Charlie Hales: I support reducing the impact of the business license tax on small businesses, and if increasing the Owners Compensation Deduction is the best way to do so, then let’s discuss the right dollar amount to arrive at the impact that we want.

Jefferson Smith: “I am open to a conversation about relaxing the BLF to accomplish targeted goals. Though the business license fee is an important part of the city’s general fund, I recognize it can impact competitiveness, especially when combined with a state tax structure that relies so heavily upon the personal income tax. If you’ll work with me, I promise a good-faith effort to look at this.”

BUSINESS TAX FOLLOWUP:  If so, over what time period would you like to see this happen? If not, please explain your position.

Eileen Brady: The original plan set a goal of increasing the deduction to $125,000 by 2012. Once elected, I will work to get this increase phased in as quickly as resources and budget constraints allow.

Charlie Hales: I’d like discussions on the right amount to increase the Deduction to begin shortly after taking office.

Jefferson Smith:

SMALL BUSINESS QUESTION: The Alliance’s 2010 Checkup on the Portland-Region’s Economic Health found that 46 percent of net job creation between 1977 and 2005 came from firms with fewer than 50 employees. Small firms typically have very low margins and few financial reserves. Additional taxes, fees and regulations impact them significantly. The city has initiated some programs that assist small businesses and allocated modest funding toward these efforts in recent years.

Fees & Regulation: How will you work to reduce the fees, taxes and regulatory burdens of small businesses? Would you support a city business income tax credit for small businesses that create jobs?

Eileen Brady: Yes, I support a city business income tax credit for small businesses that create jobs.

Charlie Hales:
The city’s permit process has once again become cumbersome. While many of the reforms that we established for residential permits are still in place, the complexity and inconsistency of commercial development review has become severe. I will initiate a full review of codes, fees and processes. I would support a city business income tax credit for job-creation.

Jefferson Smith:
I’m committed to developing and growing small businesses to drive economic growth. The findings of Oregon’s Stage 2 Economic Development (“Economic Gardening”) Task Force were illustrative. We’ll need multiple tools in our toolbox. Targeted tax credits for projects that deliver real results should be one, but we should not break the bank. Other ideas: 1) Working with universities and support enterprises to boost access to business intelligence and market research. 2) Better access to, and circulation of, local capital. 3) Installing a small business permit specialist or organization to facilitate compliance with codes.

#### Please view the whole report and all questions here

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