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Taxes: Forget the Bucks, It's the Time

March 5, 2010 By: George Dooley

One key area of concern from small-business owners in a difficult economy is taxes, according to the non-partisan National Small Business Association (NSBA). But it's not simply the fear and likelihood that taxes will rise, but also the financial and administrative burden associated with compliance. An NSBA study reports that 56 percent of small business owners are spending more than 40 hours  on federal taxes. No word on time spent on state and local taxes, however.

NSBA asked small-business owners how much time they spend each year working on their federal taxes, and 56 percent said they spend more than 40 hours. Meanwhile, 36 percent spend more than 80 hours per year— two full weeks! When asked how much they spend each year on tax compliance, 52 percent of small-business owners reported spending more than $5,000 and 27 percent reported spending more than $10,000—that could conceivably amount to more than half of one full-time employee’s salary for an entire year.

When asked about their policy priorities, the NSBA reports a notable jump in 2009 from previous  surveys in the number of small-business owners who placed top priority on reducing the federal tax burden. In July 2009, 35 percent ranked taxes the number one issue for Congress to address. Today, nearly half (43 percent) of small-business owners think that reducing the federal tax burden should be at the top of Congress’ to do list.

The NSBA Year-End Economic survey takes a close look at how business has fared over the past 12 months as well as projections for the coming year. Small-business owners were asked how much change their businesses had experienced in gross sales/revenues and net profit  with the results remain largely unchanged from the previous survey. Both indicators show a net decrease.

Unfortunately, the NSBA reports that gross sales/revenues dipped even lower, with 64 percent in December 2009 reporting decreases while 62 percent reported decreases in July 2009. There was a very slight change to net profit with 64 percent reporting decreases in December 2009, down from 66 percent in July 2009.

Comparatively, in August 2008, 48 percent cited revenue increases and 30 percent cited decreases, however in December 2009, only 22 percent cited an increase in revenues and 64 percent cited decreases. This continues the trend that started in December 2008 of net revenue decreases, the first time a majority of small business respondents cited revenue decreases since NSBA began asking the question in 1993. The small silver lining: the majority of small businesses (52 percent) expect growth opportunities in the coming 12 months.


As a travel agent and small business owner how do you handle take preparation? Do you use an accountant or tax software programs? Does the amount of time spent measure that of the NSBA survey?  Let us know what you think. Post a comment below. Share a note on our Facebook page, Send us a tweet at our Twitter page. Join the discussion at AgentNation. We want to hear from you.

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