Washington, DC – Today, the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), Business for Shared Prosperity (BSP) and Main Street Alliance (MSA) called on the Senate to legislate a “Buffett Rule” by passing the Paying a Fair Share Act (S. 2230), assuring that households with incomes above $1 million don’t pay lower tax rates than middle-income taxpayers.

In a letter delivered to Senators, nine business organizations disputed claims that a Buffett Rule would negatively affect small businesses owners, the vast majority of whom are middle-class Americans with incomes under the rule’s $1 million threshold. Only 1 percent of the 34 million households reporting any business income on their tax returns earn more than $1 million annually, according to data from the non-partisan Tax Policy Center.

“I could have all the South Carolina small business owners making more than $1 million a year over for a backyard barbecue and have plenty of room left over,” said Frank Knapp, president of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce and vice chair of ASBC. “It’s time for the real millionaires club – CEOs of big corporations, hedge fund managers and corporate lobbyists – to pay their fair share.”

“When politicians who stand against a Buffett Rule for millionaires wring their hands about how it will impact small businesses, let's be clear: that's small business identity theft,” said Benjamin Markeson, owner of Three Star Flea Market in Apopka, Florida, and a leader with MSA. “They're stealing the good name of small business owners like me, who believe millionaires aren't paying their fair share of taxes, and using us as a human shield to protect the richest one percent from pitching in.”

The letter also cited national, independent polling data showing that 57 percent of small business owners support the tax increase included in the Buffett Rule. The scientific poll revealed that only one of the 500 small business owners surveyed reported an income above $1 million.

“Those who benefit most from our national expenditures on infrastructure, education and law enforcement need to pay their fair share,” said Lew Prince, owner of Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis, Missouri, and a BSP leader. “I’ve been in business 33 years, and I’m appalled that my customers, who worry about scraping up enough to pay for their next tank of gas and groceries, pay higher tax rates than some oil and food executives. The Buffett Rule is the right step in bringing more fairness to the tax system and supporting the public investments and job creation we need for a healthy economy.”

Business leaders have been pushing Congress to restore higher tax rates for high-income Americans since 2010. ASBC, BSP and MSA have signed a petition with hundreds of small business owners to let the high-end tax cuts from the George W. Bush presidency expire at the end of 2012. BSP also released a 2011 report detailing the business benefits of fair income taxes and setting the record straight about the impact of top-rate tax cuts on small businesses.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on the Paying a Fair Share Act, introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), on April 16. Following the delivery of the business leaders’ letter, Sen. Whitehouse said small business owners “work hard every day, play by the rules, and pay their fair share in taxes. It’s not right for ultra-high income earners to play by different rules and pay lower tax rates, and I’m committed to correcting this inequity.”

The American Sustainable Business Council is a growing coalition of business networks representing over 100,000 companies and 200,000 business leaders. ASBC advocates for public policies that meet the realities of the 21st century global economy. www.asbcouncil.org

Business for Shared Prosperity is a network of forward thinking business owners, executives and investors. BSP has organized petitions for positive corporate tax reform and for ending top-rate tax cuts, and produced related reports. BSP is a member of the American Sustainable Business Council. www.businessforsharedprosperity.org

The Main Street Alliance is a national network of state-based small business coalitions. MSA creates opportunities for small business owners to speak for themselves on issues that impact their businesses and local economies. www.mainstreetalliance.org

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