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TheStreet Open House

Small Business State Of The Union Scorecard

By JOYCE M. ROSENBERG

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday covered a lot of issues that are important to small business including the tax code, minimum wage, immigration and the difficulty some owners have finding workers with the right skills.

Here is a look at some of Obama's proposals, and how they could affect small business:

SIMPLIFIED TAX CODE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

Impact: Positive

Obama talked about creating a tax code that helps small businesses spend less time filing out complicated forms. It's really not the forms but the code itself that's the problem â¿¿ small business owners have long complained about the complexity of federal tax laws and the time and money they have to spend to keep up with changes. A survey last year by the National Small Business Association found that more than half of small business owners â¿¿ 56 percent â¿¿ said administrative side of taxes was a bigger burden than actually paying taxes.

"The overhead on our ability to keep up with the tax code is super-challenging," said Ryan Howard, CEO of Practice Fusion, an electronic medical records company in San Francisco. He estimates that 5 percent of his expenses go toward dealing with taxes.

MINIMUM WAGE

Impact: Negative

Obama wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour from $7.25. While Obama noted that 19 states plus the District of Columbia have a higher minimum wage than the federal government, all the states except for Washington have a minimum wage below $9. Washington state's hourly minimum wage is $9.19.

"It will be a 28 percent increase in my payroll each year," said Sean Falk, who owns 12 franchises including Mrs. Fields cookies and brownies â¿¿ and Pretzelmaker â¿¿ shops in four states with minimum wages ranging from $7.25 to $7.85 an hour. Falk said an increase to $9 would force him to shutter his less profitable stores, and could keep him from opening more locations.

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