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TN Offers Assistance for Business-Related Taxes

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Revenue; January 4, 2012:

Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Revenue announces its next series of free bimonthly tax workshops to be held in Chattanooga, Johnson City, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville.

TN Offers Assistance Business-Related Taxes

Chattanooga: January 16, from 8 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at the department’s Chattanooga regional office, located at 540 McCallie Avenue. The workshop will be held in conference room 607.

Johnson City: January 10, from 8 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. at the department’s Johnson City regional office, located at 204 High Point Drive.

Knoxville: January 16, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the department’s Knoxville regional office, located at 531 Henley Street, suite 606.

Memphis: January 10, from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Renaissance Business Center, located at 555 Beale Street. The workshop will be held in the Memphis Training Room.

Nashville: January 22, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the department’s Murfreesboro Road office, located at 1321 Murfreesboro Road, 8th Floor.

These free workshops are designed to assist those encountering business-related taxes for the first time. Tax specialists from various local and state agencies will provide the basic information needed to comply with registration and tax requirements. During the session, attendees will have the opportunity to listen to these tax specialists, ask questions and receive materials explaining tax responsibilities and providing contact information. Areas of discussion will include business tax, sales and use tax, unemployment tax and tax enforcement procedures.

Space is limited and registration is required. For more information, please call (800) 342-1003 (toll-free inside Tennessee) or (615) 253-0600 (local Nashville-area and outside Tennessee), or visit Revenue’s Web site to download the registration form.

The Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax and motor vehicle title and registration laws established by the legislature, and the collection of taxes and fees associated with those laws. The Department of Revenue collects approximately 91 percent of total state tax revenue. In collecting taxes and registering motor vehicles, the department enforces the revenue laws fairly and impartially in an effort to encourage voluntary taxpayer compliance. To learn more about the department, log on to www.TN.gov/revenue.

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Unemployment, Regulatory Reform Top NFIB Tennessee’s Leglislative Agenda

Press Release from National Federation of Independent Businesses; Jan. 17, 2012:

Tennessee 2012 Proactive Legislative Agenda

Unemployment Reform – Small business overwhelmingly supports substantive reforms to our state’s administrative review process for unemployment claims. Specifically, NFIB members support a stronger misconduct definition that addresses chronic absenteeism and theft, as well as a defined work search requirement for recertifying beneficiaries. Importantly, employers are subject to a costly 0.6% unemployment tax surcharge until our Unemployment Trust Fund reaches $650 million, so every effort to reduce fraud and abuse and help workers return to work sooner will stimulate hiring and investment.

Regulatory reform – Our members support greater transparency, accountability and involvement in the regulatory process. We support a requirement for certain boards to enable licensees to receive notification via e-mail of the overseeing board’s proposed agenda. Small businesses would like greater ease and opportunity to offer critical feedback of proposed fee increases and rules that directly impact their ability to grow their businesses and make long-term plans. Too often under the current process, they learn of new rules or fee increases after their adoption. In addition, we will support efforts to repeal unnecessary licensure procedures and protectionist laws and rules.

Budget and Tax Reform – Our members appreciate the improved budget process, which includes the ending of the so-called ‘technical corrections” process, and our state’s conservative fiscal approach. We strongly support repeal/phase out of the state’s onerous inheritance tax, which hurts multi-generational businesses and farmers. We support the restoration of vendors’ compensation, which prior to 2000 allowed businesses to retain a percentage of sales taxes collected as compensation for incurred costs and time. We will continue to review proposals that hinder our members’ ability to own, operate and grow their businesses.

Tort reform – We are evaluating specific tort reform proposals that protect employers from excessive litigation costs and liability exposure. We will communicate our positions on bills as they are introduced this session.

Workers’ Comp – Our members strongly support the administration’s effort to identify workers’ comp challenges that are inhibiting job growth and putting Tennessee significantly behind neighboring states. Tennessee employers and employees complain that the time to adjudicate claims is lengthy and delays return to work and payment of claims. According to the Oregon Department of Labor’s 2010 study of workers’ comp costs by state, Tennessee ranks No. 31, well behind Arkansas (No. 2) and Virginia (No. 4) and trailing Mississippi (No. 20), Georgia (No. 27) and North Carolina (No. 28). We are studying various proposals, including moving to a commission-based review system. Our members strongly support addressing decades of adverse case law and enacting a stronger workplace injury definition, and look forward to advancing meaningful reform in the months and years ahead.

Defeat Bad Business Bills – We expect the usual introduction of bad business bills, including well intended but costly mandates, misguided union efforts and similar proposals that inhibit free enterprise in Tennessee. We will continue to inform elected officials about the detrimental effects of these efforts.

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Ramsey Rolls Out ‘Red Tape’ Website

Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey said he hopes to create a “megaphone” for Tennessee small businesses by launching a website that will give them a place to air their grievances with state government.

He says the site, TNRedTape.com, which stands for “Ridiculous Employee Decisions That Affect People Every Day” will collect complaints about dealing with Tennessee government bureaucracy.

“Tell me how government red tape has affected your life. I’ll help you cut it,” Ramsey said via Twitter moments after he announced the website Monday in a press conference at Capitol Hill.

His staff will manage the website and chase down submitted complaints, such as problems applying for a business license, and try to rectify the problems.

Ramsey, who is titled the “chief red tape cutter” on the website, doesn’t know how much maintaining the website and following up on complaints will cost the state of Tennessee, he said. But “this will be best money that has ever been spent in the state of Tennessee” if they ease headaches for small businesses.

The site was applauded by representatives from the National Federation of Independent Business and the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, a free-market think tank.

“The regulatory environment in our country and in our state is crushing free enterprise and job creation,” said Jim Brown, state director of the NFIB.. “A lot of folks have been talking about jobs bills. Where’s the jobs bills? And, in our minds, this is part of a jobs bill.”

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Press Releases

New TN ‘Small Business Advocate’ Named

Press Release from Office of Tennessee Comptroller Justin P. Wilson, July 22, 2010:

Comptroller Justin P. Wilson introduced Joshua Helton as the state’s new small business advocate at an event in Kingsport Thursday morning. Comptroller Wilson joined House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower and Rep. Tony Shipley at the grand opening ceremony for Shipley’s new district office at 2101 Fort Henry Drive in Kingsport.

At the ceremony, Comptroller Wilson discussed a new law, approved by the General Assembly this year, which created the position of the small business advocate within his office.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Leader Mumpower were the primary sponsors of the new law.

The small business advocate will provide information and answer questions for owners of businesses with 50 or fewer employees. The small business advocate will also act as a mediator to help resolve issues involving small businesses and state departments and agencies.

The new law also requires all state departments and agencies with regulatory authority over businesses to designate a point person who will deal directly with the small business advocate when issues or questions arise.

“This is an extremely important new law for small businesses across the state of Tennessee and I commend Leader Mumpower and Lt. Gov. Ramsey for their leadership in winning its approval from the General Assembly,” Comptroller Wilson said. “Josh Helton has done a terrific job as a member of my staff and I am confident that he will continue to excel in this new role.”

“Too often, government is in the position of placing new regulations on businesses that make it tougher for them to operate,” Lt. Gov. Ramsey said. “This law does just the opposite. Its purpose is to make the lives of those hard-working small business people easier.”

“Small businesses are really the backbone of our economy in Tennessee,” Leader Mumpower said. “However, starting and operating a small business isn’t easy. The small business advocate will be someone small business owners can turn to for help.”

Helton worked for the private law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz before joining the Comptroller’s staff as a legislative auditor last September.

“I am very excited about this opportunity,” Helton said. “I look forward to hearing from small

business about their concerns or questions about the way Tennessee regulates them. Working together, I hope we can make changes that will build on Tennessee’s reputation as a business-friendly state.”

Rep. Shipley expressed gratitude to Comptroller Wilson and Leader Mumpower for attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony for his new office, which will be a place where constituents from Tennessee’s Second Representative District may go to ask questions or make comments about state government.

In addition to discussing the small business advocate law during his stop in Kingsport, Comptroller Wilson also talked about another new law that will reform the state’s purchasing system and provided an update on the TNInvestco economic development program.

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Press Releases

‘Small Business Advocate’ Bill On Way To Guv’s Desk

Press Release from Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville; June 9, 2010:

Ramsey Bill Will Require Departments Work With Small Business Advocate

(Nashville) – Legislation sponsored by Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) to create a small business advocate within state government has passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming bipartisan majority. The law requires each state department to appoint a liaison to the small business advocate to resolve problems caused by excessive government regulation. The bill will now be sent to Governor Bredesen to be signed into law.

“Small businesses create the vast majority of jobs in our state and nation,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “Government should not interfere with their growth and should look for ways to make that growth easier. This legislation ensures that small business has a partner in state government and makes every state department accountable to Tennessee’s job creators.”

Under this law, each department and agency in state government that has any regulatory authority over business activity would appoint a person from existing personnel to serve as a contact person for the small business advocate when the advocate has an issue or question concerning the department or agency.

The small business advocate will report annually to the Senate Commerce, Labor and Agriculture committee and the Commerce committee of the House of Representatives to evaluate the activities of department and agency personnel, including a rating of the responsiveness to small business owners’ concerns. This bill also requires that the small business advocate prepare an annual report on the advocate’s activities, findings and recommendations to the governor, members of the general assembly and to the heads of affected state departments and agencies.

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Press Releases

Senate Passes Small-Business ‘Advocate’ Legislation

Press Release from the Office of Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, April 29, 2010:

Bill by Lt. Governor Ramsey will require regulatory agencies to work with small business advocate

(Nashville) – Legislation sponsored by Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) to create a small business advocate within state government today passed the state Senate. The bill also requires each state department to appoint a liaison to the small business advocate to resolve problems caused by excessive government regulation.

“Government should help small businesses start and grow, not stand in the way,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey (R-Blountville). “This legislation ensures that small business has a partner in state government working to solve their problems and makes every state department accountable to Tennessee’s job creators.”

Under this law, each department and agency in state government that has any regulatory authority over business activity would appoint a person from existing personnel to serve as a contact person for the small business advocate when the advocate has an issue or question concerning the department or agency.

“Small businesses provide the vast majority of jobs in our state and nation,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “We need them to thrive if we are to grow our way out of the current economic climate. This legislation helps achieve that goal.”

The small business advocate will report annually to the Senate Commerce, Labor and Agriculture committee and the Commerce committee of the House of Representatives to evaluate the activities of department and agency personnel, including a rating of the responsiveness to small business owners’ concerns. This bill also requires that the small business advocate prepare an annual report on the advocate’s activities, findings and recommendations to the governor, members of the general assembly and to the heads of affected state departments and agencies.