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Dubious Deal? Small Biz Mixed On Cliff Compromise

By JOYCE M. ROSENBERG

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Congress stopped the country from going over the so-called "fiscal cliff" â¿¿ and that's great news for some small business owners. But with a deal that doesn't immediately address federal budget cuts, for many, the uncertainty drags on.

The compromise bill that passed the House late Tuesday raises taxes on couples earnings $450,000 or more and individuals earning at least $400,000. That affects small company owners who report their companies' income on their personal 1040 returns. Democrats and small business lobbying groups had estimated that just 5 percent of owners would have paid higher taxes under President Obama's proposal to raise rates on couples earning $250,000 or more, and individuals earning at least $200,000. The number of owners who will pay higher taxes now is likely to be even less than those estimates.

"That will help out tremendously," says Nate Nelson, who owns a medical testing company, Frontera Strategies, based in Dallas. He sets aside money to pay his taxes, and the higher threshold means he may have more cash available to make two hires and $80,000 in equipment purchases he's been putting off.

"It will help us loosen the belt a little," Nelson says.

The bill avoids widespread tax increases, but it delays deciding on for two months about spending cuts that could be deep. Companies that benefit from government contracts â¿¿ whether they work directly for the government or do business with companies that contract with the government â¿¿ still don't know how they might be affected by cuts in defense and other federal programs. Without the cliff compromise, the Pentagon and numerous federal agencies would have been subject to billions in budget cuts as early as this month. Cuts are still expected but it's unclear where, or how much, they will be.

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