One of the major sticking points regarding the free trade talks is a portion known as TAA, or “Trade Adjustment Assistance”. “The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program is a federal program that provides a path for employment growth and opportunity through aid to US workers who have lost their jobs as a result of foreign trade,” and this program is slated to expire at the end of September, unless Congress reauthorizes is. The funding source for the new TAA bill, as passed by the Senate last month, is a $700 million reduction to Medicare funding. But the vote neared, the pressure to change the funding source and spare Medicare reached a crescendo.
An alternative funding solution was prepared, one that is particularly odious. TAA, if passed, will be financed by “raising the penalties for misfiled taxes”.
Here’s how it would work. As it stands now, small businesses who pay independent contractor/freelancers are supposed to report that income to the IRS using a 1099 form. Another copy of that form goes to the contractor/freelancer. If a small business files all their forms past the deadline or not at all, it receives a fine. The new proposal, “would double and triple these fines.”
This merely serves to empower the IRS, who frankly, is the last arm of the government who deserves increased power right now. Because this measure specifically creates an incentive to raise revenue for the express purpose of funding another government program, you can be sure the IRS will be incentivized to pay closer attention to our small businesses and pounce on paperwork error.
This proposal is reminiscent of the program that was approved as a revenue raiser for Obamacare a few years ago. Congress initially voted to increase the fines meted out for small businesses who did not file a 1099 for anyone paid a mere $600 or more in a calendar year, but the backlash was so great, that Congress appealed it before the law took effect. Though this new gimmick is not quite the same, it is equally abhorrent.
The underlying assumption is that there are enough businesses who don’t file, or misfile all their forms, so they deserved to be penalized even more by substantially increasing compliance fines – all for the express purpose of funding something else by the government. Instead of the government making spending cuts to existing programs in order the TAA program alive, it chooses to target the private sector again for more money.
Congress has a deadline of July 30th to re-vote on the TAA bill. If it plans to re-authorize the program, perhaps it will find a better way to fund it than off of the backs of small businesses.