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One Woman's Opinion

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Making payroll

Mary Wakefield Buxton

by Mary Wakefield Buxton

Urbanna, Va.— There are certain experiences every American should taste in life in order to become fully rounded. All experience is valuable, of course, but some are “special.”

My list of special experiences everyone ought to partake of in life includes teaching a class in public school, waiting tables, going off to war and getting shot at, paying taxes, writing a controversial opinion in the local newspaper, driving a rescue squad vehicle, working a policeman’s shift, taking care of 4,000 patients (as my doctor does) and, lastly, making payroll.

I haven’t quite experienced all of the above as yet but I’m still working at it. Returning to work last year was a sudden dose in reality as to the most important event in every small business here in Middlesex and across the country—making payroll.

This glorious event happens every week or so throughout the nation with not much applause or recognition, and affects millions of employers and employees. Indeed, this humble happening makes, as the saying goes, “the world go ‘round.”

It sounds so easy. Making payroll? Big deal. Who couldn’t make payroll? Why, there is hardly any mention of the importance or even difficulty of making payroll to the broad mainstream of students in school or college, or is it even of any particular worthwhile mention in most media.

Okay. Maybe it’s not so challenging to make payroll. Maybe anyone could do it, or at least make payroll once, twice or even three times in a row. But making payroll week after week, year after year, even during tough economic times such as we now have, that’s a very different matter.

The private sector relies on its own hearty ability to survive. Or at least that was true before government started using taxpayers’ money to bail out corporations in America that were “too big to fail.” But small businesses succeed or fail mainly on their own capabilities and does not turn to public funds to meet salaries, pensions, health benefits or retirement plans—as does the public sector and now even some big corporations.

This is why small business is so very important to the nation. It provides goods and services at the least cost to the public along with being the major employer in America, providing almost 70% of all jobs.

Small business is precarious . . . either provide excellent goods and services to the public efficiently and make a profit or . . . bingo, you’re out of business. The mediocre, uncaring, foolish and wasteful simply do not survive. When there’s drop in profits, small business has to cut back on overhead, make do with less, or close its doors.

The bad news is when a small business doesn’t succeed not only is very much-needed tax receipts lost to the government treasury, but also there’s an immediate loss of jobs. When a business shuts down, everyone loses.

Major threats to small business, beside lack of ability and recession, are payroll taxes. The more taxes small business has to pay, the less employment it can offer. 

Small businesses that hire employees must pay payroll taxes for each employee either as self-employment tax and 100 percent of the employer’s social security, and now more than half of each employee’s social security contribution, possibly all or a portion of the employee’s health insurance and retirement plan, along with unemployment taxes. On top of that, many small businesses fund holiday, vacation and sick leave for each employee, and perhaps even pays snow days when the business is closed. Some citizens may not realize or appreciate what a big responsibility this is.

This administration has been particularly negative to small business. The incessant “tax the rich” (a loosely understood but commonly used term that apparently translates to anyone who pays more taxes than we do) and laying blame on the private sector for economic woes has been exceedingly damaging to business morale. 

Small businesses work hard. Whatever political party is in charge, it can’t afford to be hostile to small businesses because there will never be an economic recovery without this important segment in society, which is committed to meet obligations to customers, employees, local and federal government and society in general. To all those small businesses who hang in there providing goods, services and jobs through good and bad times–thank you and good work!

All who work, whether in the private or public sector or as a volunteer, fulfill a need in society. It is helpful if we respect each other and quit painting each other as the bad guy.

Let’s do all we can to get America back to work again. First steps are to see ourselves as one big team rather than polarized and divided units; understand and respect our different responsibilities and functions in a free society; and look to ourselves to help solve problems other than expecting others to do so.


posted 09.12.2012

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