More Than Cheer In Congressional Stocking

stocking

Women business owners enter the holiday season with a gift from Congress — more money for important women’s entrepreneurship programs.

Just when it seemed like Members of Congress would have to delay their Holiday break, the House and Senate passed two key bills to conclude the legislative year. After funding the government with stopgap measures for over two months, Congress agreed on a spending bill thru September 2016. Accompanying the yearlong spending bill is a bipartisan agreement to extend expiring tax rules for businesses and families. Both bills give women-owned businesses reason to celebrate during the Holiday season.

The $1.1 trillion funding bill sets spending levels for all government programs through September 30, 2016. Congress increased funding for many of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) lending and entrepreneurial development programs. The chart below highlights WIPP’s priorities and the programs import to women entrepreneurs:

  FY2016 WIPP’s Request FY2015
Women’s Business Centers $17 million $16 million $15 million
National Women’s Business Council $1.5 million $1 million $1 million
Microloan Program Lending $35 million $35 million $25 million
Microloan Program Technical Assistance $25 million $25 million $22.3 million
PRIME Program $5 million $5 million $5 million
Office of Advocacy $9.1 million $9.1 million $8.45 million

WIPP advocated throughout 2015 on behalf of women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs and WIPP’s efforts culminated in full and increased funding levels for vital programs. Congress gave a huge boost to the microloan program- a primary capital access vehicle for women-owned businesses – by expanding lending authority by 40% to $35 million. Women’s business Centers (WBCs) will receive an increase of $2 million, which will enable the WBC program to provide additional grants for entrepreneurial development training for women entrepreneurs. Not only did WIPP advocate for increased funding for the WBC program, WIPP supported The Women’s Small Business Ownership Act of 2015. This bill would increase the WBC program’s authorization to $21.75 million, increase awards to Centers from $150,000 to $250,000, and provide modernizations to the program’s granting and approval process.

Congress’ tax “extenders” bill, an annual extension of certain tax credits and deductions, provides certainty for businesses and valuable incentives for research and investment. The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act will expand and make permanent small business expensing rules and the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit. Lawmakers permanently extended the small business expensing limitation of $500,000 that was in effect from 2010 to 2014.  Had this rule not been extended, businesses would only have been allowed to deduct a maximum of $200,000 for machinery and equipment investments.

The bill also makes permanent the R&D credit, making it easier for start-ups and small businesses to receive tax deductions for innovative projects. According to WIPP’s 2015 Survey of Women Business Owners, tax burdens were the prime concern of women-owned firms. Specifically, women business owners cited uncertainty in tax credits and deductions as an annual concern. This bill helps alleviate some of the uncertainty.

As we wrap up 2015, Congress’s end of the year legislation provides full funding and certainty for programs important to women entrepreneurs.  We are looking forward to a productive and successful 2016.

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