Meehan, Gerlach visit area businesses for 'Stop the Tax Hike' day

Rob King, left, of Chadds Ford Tree Service, shows off his operation to Congressman Pat Meehan, while Rep. Jim Gerlach talks business with Katherine King. The two politicians were on a tour of area businesses as part of "Stop the Tax Hike" day.

Two area politicians spent Friday afternoon discussing the proposed extension of President Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts with area business owners, just days before the vote.

The House of Representatives is prepared to pass an extension of the cuts next week before heading into recess for the remainder of August.

House Democrats plan to introduce a bill to extend the expiring Bush tax cuts for middle-class taxpayers, while Republicans are also planning to vote on their own proposal to extend tax cuts for taxpayers at all income levels.

Last Wednesday, the Senate voted 51 to 48 to approve the Democratic proposal, which would only extend the tax cuts for adjusted gross income under $250,000 for couples and $200,000 for singles – a move in line with President Obama's current policies.

The visits coincide with 'Stop the Tax Hike' day, an initiative among the Republican majority to oppose any increase.

Congressman Pat Meehan, R-7, and Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-6, visited several business in both districts, including Inteprod in Eagleville, Powell Pump and Drilling in Aston, and The Gables restaurant and Chadds Ford Tree Service in Chadds Ford Township.

The two met at Chadds Ford Tree Service to discuss how the proposed tax increases would impact small businesses, particularly those who pay taxes through the individual code.

A report issued by independent accounting firm Ernst & Young states that the proposed tax increase could cost more than 700,000 American jobs – 30,000 of those in Pennsylvania.

Meehan said that the increases would directly affect businesses like Chadds Ford Tree Service and their ability to grow in the current economic climate.

An additional 2.5 percent tax on medical devices, he added, could potentially force Inteprod to close its doors and lay off its 17 employees.

'This one company is struggling to stay afloat,' he said. 'So we're not just talking about new job creation; we're talking about trying to retain the jobs that we have.'

Gerlach said that it isn't just a matter of the amount of taxation – it's also a matter of the uncertainty and unpredictability of the tax code.

'Here you have a business community that says, 'it seems like congress every six months wants to change its mind as to what the tax code's going to be.' As businesses, they can't plan because they don't know what the taxes are going to be six months, a year, five years away,' Gerlach said.

He added that the House Republican majority plans to run a bill next week that would keep the current tax code in place for one year while they continue working on a complete tax code revision.

'I think we're going to get some bipartisan support for keeping the tax rates as they are,' he said. 'I don't know how many we'll get from the other side.'

For Rob and Katherine King, who have been in business for 33 years, any looming tax issues don't mean a reduction of their six person staff, some of which have been with them for a decade or more.

'You find a way, you just keep going,' Rob King said, adding that he often makes sure there are jobs tucked aside for those proverbial rainy days to ensure that his people have work.

He also said that while business dropped off by roughly 30 percent a few years back, t has since leveled out and remains fairly steady.

Katherine King said she was pleased to have received to call to be a part of the small business tour, giving them an opportunity to be heard.

'I'm glad they sought us out,' she said.

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