LANCASTER, N.Y. - Vice President Mike Pence came to Performance Advantage Company on Center Street on Tuesday, speaking to about 75 invited guests for about 40 minutes, regarding plans for the first major overhaul of the nation's tax code in more than 30 years.
After a tour of the facility which manufactures brackets for a variety of tools and equipment, mostly for use on emergency vehicles, the Vice Presidents sat with a host of small business owners to talk tax reform.
“I’m here to hear from each and every one of you as the debate begins in congress in the coming weeks," Mr. Pence said at the beginning of his remarks during a “round table” discussion.
Most of what he heard back was positive, about the plan to slash taxes from 35% to 25% for many small businesses, as well as allowing them to write off the cost of new equipment in the first year instead of over a five year or longer period of time.
“This is a great benefit to businesses and also allows businesses to continue to modernize and to move into the new equipment to let you be competitive,” Mr. Pence said.
Dick Young, the founder of Performance Advantage Company, told Pence that taxes are the bane of small business, especially in New York.
“When New York gets through with me it eats a lot, "said Young. “So… if we have an opportunity to grow or expand, that’s neat.”
“You know, I feel like small business often gets forgotten," Richard Budd told the Vice President.
Budd and his wife Rachel started their small firm, Goodrich Coffee, a couple of years ago and informed Pence that they currently pay more in state and federal taxes than they take out of the business in terms of earnings.
Chuck Marchetta started a company called Engineered Thermal Solutions less than two years ago. The idea of a simplified tax code, as promised by the Trump Plan, appeals to his wife, Colleen.
“The time he spends on accounting, he should be spending that time growing his business,” Mrs. Marchetta told the Vice President. “He should be learning more about what he's doing, he should be pushing growth and not figuring out loop holes in the tax code and how to handle all of this that's so new to him right now."
“You couldn’t have said it better,” replied Pence. “You’re putting value on what the American people spend in time and money in terms of filling out their taxes. There’s an opportunity cost to that, when you’re not working on your business instead."
Kelly Culp-Burton, an architect whose firm specializes in net zero, energy efficient homes, had another concern to bring forth.
“Something that entices home owners to spend extra money on solar or geothermal systems are incentives that come through the government," said Culp-Burton, expressing a concern that such tax credits -- a hallmark of the Obama years -- might disappear under the Trump tax plan.
“We want a flatter, fairer tax rate system,” conceded Pence. “But other than that, some of those historic energy incentives I expect to remain in place unless Congress decides otherwise. But we'll carry that back into the debate."
The Vice President did not take questions from reporters, so we were unable to ask him about the Trump tax plan's proposed elimination of the ability to deduct state and local income and property taxes, which many in New York have decried –despite the plans proposal to double the personal exemption.