In late September, President Obama signed a hotly contested bill that will give two legs up for small businesses in the form of a heavily funded loan program and multiple tax breaks. The bill was passed despite strong opposition from Republicans whose filibuster was broken not a moment too soon—barely five weeks before the November midterm elections—for embattled Democrats in need of something to boast about on the campaign trail.
The Small Business Jobs Act creates a $30 billion government fund to help encourage lending to small businesses, which have suffered heavily from a tightening of credit in the wake of the financial market meltdown. It will be available to small, local banks, which could use the money to leverage billions of dollars in additional loans.
The bill also extends successful Small Business Administration (SBA) Recovery Loan Provisions, making available more than $680 million in loans to more than 1,300 businesses that have been waiting for credit. It will also extend provisions that will offer another $14 billion in SBA loans.
The bill also provides about $12 billion in tax breaks to small businesses in the form of eight different tax cuts that took effect immediately after the bill’s signing. The tax breaks include zero capital gains taxes for key small business investments held for five years or more; a new, higher limit of $500,000 in investments that businesses can write off in the next two years; an extension of the 50 percent bonus depreciation; a new deduction for health insurance costs for the self-employed; tax relief and simplification for cell phone deductions; an increase in the deduction from $5,000 to $10,000 for entrepreneurs’ startup expenses; a five-year carryback of general business credits; and limitations on penalties for errors in tax reporting that disproportionately affect small business.
The eight tax provisions went into effect immediately, so small business owners can apply them to their 2010 taxes.