African-Americans were better off in 2000 than they were just last year, according to the latest Census data. During nearly two decades, median income for African-American households has dropped, wages have been stagnant, and our community’s unemployment rate remains alarmingly high.
Our buying power, however, has spiked in that same time span, as have our contributions to the economy. We represent 13 percent of all Americans and drive our economy forward through our entrepreneurial spirit, which is a force by way of the 8 million minority-owned businesses around the country.
The Small Business Administration found last year that these businesses have been responsible for $1.4 trillion in revenue and more than 7 million jobs. In my hometown Chicago, where African-Americans make up a significant portion of the city’s population, there were more than 140,000 minority-owned firms as of 2012.
Let’s keep these numbers in mind as we take another step toward the biggest set of tax cuts in a generation. That’s great news for an entrepreneurial African-American community that has increasingly pursued business ownership as a critical step toward the American Dream.
Workers and business owners in our community, much like everyone else in the country, need President Trump and Republicans in Congress to deliver on tax reform. Congress is getting closer with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which will give the average middle-income family an annual $1,182 tax cut.
The plan would reduce taxes on low- and middle-income individuals, allowing everyone to keep more of what they earn. It would expand the Child Tax Credit to help relieve the burdens of child care, and make the tax filing process painless by streamlining our cumbersome tax code. That means more affordable, quality child care, and less time and money spent each year on navigating a complex bureaucracy just to file your taxes.
The plan would also lower the tax rates on businesses to encourage entrepreneurs to create more jobs, grow their companies, and pay their workers higher wages. This is especially important for minority entrepreneurs, who own 29 percent of American businesses overall – and that number only keeps growing.
It’s also important for those of us who are able to work but cannot find a job. The more we empower businesses to expand and bring their operations back home, the more jobs these companies will make and give to members of our communities.
The House recently passed its tax bill, and the Senate is set to pass its version this week. Once the differences between the two bills are resolved, Trump may even be able to sign the final tax cut legislation before the holidays.
African-Americans deserve a tax system that creates jobs, lets them keep more money, helps them buy their own homes, and empowers them to start and grow businesses. Stagnant wages have discouraged us from buying homes and investing for far too long. Our 10.3 percent unemployment rate has hurt our families. A healthier economy driven by pro-growth policies will make it easier for us, and for every single American, to prosper.
We need tax reform because we have an important role to play in growing the economy. Simply put, there is so much we could do with more jobs and extra income – not just for ourselves, but also for our communities.
The National Black Chamber of Commerce agrees. The group released a statement in support of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that highlighted African-American business owners’ need for a lower corporate tax rate. Harry Alford, the chamber’s president, noted that the burden of today’s corporate tax rate falls mostly on the shoulders of workers.
It’s time to change that. Let’s encourage the Senate to come together, listen to the public, and pass the tax cuts our hard-working communities deserve.
Diante Johnson is president of the Black Conservative Federation.
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