There is a sensible, easy way to help small businesses recover

There are approximately 5.5 million family-owned businesses in the United States.  These businesses have long been the engine for growth and job creation.  While some family-owned businesses are billion-dollar behemoths like Walmart, Berkshire Hathaway, and Ford Motor Company, the vast majority are much smaller, all the way down to your local mom-and-pop store.

Both international and national big banks and corporations are seriously threatening small family businesses. (Note: By small family business, I'm not referring to those families or individuals who own franchises. Most franchises are primarily national or international in scope and don't qualify as a typical mom-and-pop independent business or store.)

Nor has the internet helped these small businesses much.  Online businesses such as Amazon and eBay have a monopoly say in which small businesses they promote and which ones are posted low on the list when it comes to search results.  For a fee, Google and Facebook will place a business prominently in product searches but for most small businesses, those fees are unaffordable.

Even if a small business has a great product or service, big businesses will compete by offering the same product or service, or something comparable, at a lower price the small business, which has minimal reserves, cannot meet.  If a big business fails to bankrupt the mom-and-pop business, it may just decide to buy out the smaller business.  Few small businesses can resist an offer of big money overnight.

So what changes in laws will guarantee that small businesses will once again thrive in the nation and the world?

Image: A small business in Arizona, 1942.  Library of Congress.

The one major incentive for small family businesses to grow is for the government to stop taxing them until they've had the ability to grow to a value of, say, 25 million dollars or so.  Once they reach a size bigger than that dollar value, taxes would be imposed on a sliding scale on gross profit, starting at 1% for every additional 5 million up to a maximum of about 50 million.  Any sale to a corporation or other non-individual owner would automatically end the no-tax or minimum-tax status.

There are other creative approaches to supporting small businesses.  Because food is the most important item in life and promotes good health, another possibility is not to tax family-owned organic farms, organic food wholesalers, organic restaurants, and organic supermarkets.  Big food corporations have bought up most of the old organic food businesses, and their ethical practices are under a big question mark.  It is also highly probable that they are lobbying the government to reduce national USDA organic food standards so they can sell inferior organic food at even greater profits.

There are also ways to combat the incredibly cheap prices of international goods, which are devastating manufacturing in the United States.  Congress could change tax laws so that the government will not tax products made exclusively in the United States, using only parts manufactured in the United States.

Admittedly, from a practical point of view, policing such family-owned businesses could require a significant bureaucratic police force.  Alternatively, the fines for breaking this rule or law could be so large that they would literally destroy a business that decided to cheat under these rules.

The fact is that tax laws can stimulate family businesses or make it extremely hard to start them.  Zero taxes would be the stimulus for many family businesses to prosper and reinvigorate market competitiveness, something that barely survives in an era blighted by COVID lockdowns and monopolistic international big banks and big business.

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