Casey bill would reward hiring
nSenator proposes tax credit targeted to small businesses. BY KAREN SHUEY, Staff Writer
More than 10,000 businesses in Lancaster County have fewer than 500 employees.
In an effort to accelerate job creation and small-business growth, a local lawmaker will propose a tax credit tied to new hiring and wage increases.
"The top priority for Congress right now should be job creation," U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.
The Democrat said the Small Business Tax Cut Act of 2013 would benefit smaller companies the most -- giving firms that have resisted new hiring an incentive to put more workers on payrolls.
The proposed measure gives small businesses a 10 percent income tax credit on new payroll for hiring new workers or increasing the hours and wages of existing employees.
Based on current average weekly earnings of private sector employees, a business would receive a tax break of about $4,250 over the course of the year for hiring an additional employee.
The tax credit is capped at $500,000 to make it more valuable to smaller companies. And Casey specifically is targeting middle-income earners by limiting the proposal to the top wage that is subject to Social Security tax, $110,100.
The proposal is a variation of an idea that Congress rejected previously. But with job growth still lagging even as the economy expands, Casey said he thinks the revised proposal is well-timed to encourage businesses to resume hiring.
"Frankly, there hasn't been nearly enough discussion going on in Washington about how we can create more jobs," Casey said. "This legislation would be an effective step in the right direction."
Tom Baldrige, president of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry, agrees.
But, he said, the tax credit won't solve the problems facing most local business owners.
"What I hear from business owners is a longing for clarity in the tax code," Baldrige said. "There's much more interest in Washington (lawmakers) figuring out the bigger issues."
The proposal comes as Congress is under increasing pressure to do more to create jobs.
The state Department of Labor and Industry released a report Wednesday announcing that Pennsylvania's unemployment rate was 7.9 percent in December. The national unemployment rate is 7.8 percent.
"Instead of looking for quick fixes, (lawmakers) should be talking about restoring long-term sustainability," Baldrige said.