In a time when businesses are trying to recover from a government-ordered shutdown resulting from COVID-19, some Vermont lawmakers look to pour more salt in their wounds by adding $100 million increased costs onto their backs.

Struggling to bring workers back into the workforce is a daily challenge as unemployment benefits have softened the hardship workers, too, have felt during this unprecedented last 14 months.

The mantra — we’re all in this together — seems to be slipping further and further from reality as some lawmakers stand firm on placing an unnecessary $100 million unemployment insurance tax increase on Vermont businesses.

The outrageous behavior of a contingent of Chittenden County legislators and advocates of organized labor is leading lawmakers down a path that will result in slapping millions of dollars of unnecessary increased taxes on Vermont businesses because they argue businesses are greedy and unwilling to support their workers.

Additionally, as unfathomable as it may seem, the business community has had to work far too hard to shore up support to reverse a decision made by this legislative body to impose a tax on PPP loans. Sen. Patrick Leahy’s office has corroborated that, in order for PPP loans to have the full effect of those intended by Congress, states should not tax them.

Businesses were encouraged to apply for federal funds (PPP as one of the funding sources) and as long as businesses were good stewards of the federal funds entrusted to them — by using it to pay employees (making the hit to the UI Trust Fund just a bit less harsh) and to pay their rent to landlords who, in turn, pay employees and property taxes, then the funds would not be treated as taxable income.

In these final hours of this 2021 Vermont legislative session, we ask legislators to refocus their efforts on helping to put Vermont back on a stable economic path. Support the businesses, who support the workers, who spend their money on rent, utilities, groceries and other goods and services, so we can all work together toward economic recovery.

Employers understand employees are vital to the success of our state’s economic recovery from this crushing pandemic; shoving more costs down the throat of businesses that have hung on as the light at the end of the tunnel grows nearer, is shameful.

To business owners, I say, if you want to continue to own and operate your business in Vermont, the time has come to contact your legislator(s). Tell them you oppose a $100 million UI tax increase and support reversing a decision legislators made earlier this session that would impose an income tax on PPP loans. Tell them to hit the “Leave Meeting” button before they do more harm than good, and adjourn this legislative session.

Visit NFIB.com/Vermont for information about contacting your lawmakers.

Shawn Shouldice is state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

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