Just like President Barack Obama campaigned on moving our nation forward, America's small business community stands ready for a robust plan that moves them forward. We see signs of this already: It has been a great week for America's smallest businesses as Washington stepped up and will provide a new IRS filing option for the home office tax deduction. Beginning with the 2013 tax season, those who have a home office will be freed from filling out a rigorous IRS home office tax deduction that even the IRS suggests will take 44 hours to complete. As my colleague, Keith Hall, recently blogged, "Sometimes, just sometimes, Washington gets something right!"
The new 113th Congress immediately faced challenges ducked by its predecessor, including many big-ticket economic items from funding the federal government to raising the debt limit to sequestration. And despite an eleventh hour deal on avoiding the fiscal cliff late last year, Americans will still see their taxes go up with the expiration of the payroll tax holiday and new health care reform law taxes. It's not surprising that many small business households continue to be ambivalent about their futures because of both the gridlock in Washington and a slowly rebuilding economy.
As the country prepares for the presidential inauguration, the agenda of our smallest businesses -- the self-employed and micro-businesses -- must remain a high priority. As the economic engine of our country, small businesses provide the fuel that keeps our economy running. In addition to the new IRS filing option, there are a number of key policies Congress and the president could immediately take action on that would help the self-employed and micro-businesses. For instance, reinstate the self-employment tax deduction on health insurance, expand Health Reimbursement Arrangements to allow self-employed business owners to receive the same benefit as employees, and urge states to implement Self-Employment Assistance programs as part of their job training and work requirements for unemployment benefits.
Moving forward means policies like these that allow for new business growth and help current business owners keep their doors open and expand. The bottom line: They have created a job for themselves and as a result, are contributing to our economy through tax revenue, job creation and innovation. It's simply not enough to use them as props in a speech; they need to be supported with real policies that help them move forward.
President Obama will take the oath of office at a time when most Americans have little or no faith in the ability of our lawmakers to put their differences aside and come together for the good of the country. This is certainly no different for our nations' self-employed who all too often see their issues left on the cutting room floor. Our country's entrepreneurs simply can't afford four more years of bipartisan bickering and inaction.
As we pause to celebrate our democracy, our members and millions of small businesses across America -- like most Americans -- anxiously await the future. Their message to President Obama and Congress is clear: Mr. President and Members of Congress, now is the time for problem-solving, not political posturing. Now is the time for you to make the tough decisions as we do every day to grow our business, support our families and contribute to our communities. Now is the time for you to do the job we elected you to do -- to rebuild our economy and strengthen our nation. Then, we will move forward together as a nation.
Follow Kristie Arslan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/klarslan