When you think about organized crime, Minnesotans are probably the last people who come to mind. But some politicians in Washington, D.C., seem to be under the impression that people from the state known for being nice are harboring terrorists — and that those terrorists are hiding in our state’s small businesses, of all places. To address this supposed crisis, Congress is debating a bill that would wrap small businesses in red tape.
The Corporate Transparency Act specifically targets small businesses, ignoring larger companies altogether. If this sounds backwards, that’s because it is. Small businesses are the least able to handle the burdens of one-size-fits-all regulation. They’re too busy doing what they do best: creating jobs and boosting our economy.
If this bad bill passes, businesses with 20 or fewer employees would have to submit detailed personal information on everyone with an ownership stake in the firm. This wouldn’t be a one-time thing but an ongoing requirement. If they fall short, it would be disastrous: The penalty is up to a $10,000 fine, three years in prison, or both.
But the compliance burden is only half the story. Giving the federal government access to this information would also make it accessible to any local, state, or federal authorities who want it. This sensitive information would also be at the mercy of hackers, considering how often government databases are compromised.
Being asked to sacrifice our time, resources, and privacy like this simply isn’t the American way. No wonder over 80 percent of small businesses in my organization, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, agree this bill is bad for business.
Minnesota’s small businesses are run by dedicated, hard-working, honest people. Washington politicians should know better than to treat them like criminals. For Minnesota’s lawmakers, a vote against the Corporate Transparency Act is a vote in favor of small business.
Mike Hickey of St. Paul is the state director for NFIB, or the National Federation of Independent Businesses (nfib.com), which advocates for small and independent business owners.