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U.S., Pa. officials discuss tax reform in A-K Valley | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

U.S., Pa. officials discuss tax reform in A-K Valley

Emily Balser
| Saturday, June 3, 2017 12:51 a.m
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Emily Balser | Tribune-Review
Attendees of an Alle Kiski Strong Chamber of Commerce event on tax reform Friday react to a group of protesters who interrupted the meeting to protest U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus’ vote in favor of the American Health Care Act. June 2, 2017
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Emily Balser | Tribune-Review
Georgie Blackburn, from Tarentum-based Blackburn’s Physicians Pharmacy Inc., talks about the burden of high taxes on small businesses during an event with the Alle Kiski Strong Chamber of Commerce and state and federal lawmakers Friday.
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Emily Balser | Tribune-Review
Georgie Blackburn, from Tarentum-based Blackburn’s Physicians Pharmacy Inc., talks about the burden of high taxes on small businesses during an event with the Alle Kiski Strong Chamber of Commerce and state and federal lawmakers Friday.

Chad McCutcheon says his family-run waste management company could do a lot more with its profits if it was paying less taxes — an issue discussed Friday by lawmakers during a discussion with the Alle Kiski Strong Chamber of Commerce.

McCutcheon said the company, Allegheny Township-based McCutcheon Enterprises, pays out about 70 percent of its profits in state and federal taxes, including an estate tax, which has to be paid when an heir to a company dies. McCutcheon serves on the government relations committee for the chamber.

“That leaves us with only 30 percent to actually operate with,” he said. “When a business owner only has that much to work with, it’s extremely crippling.”

U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, state Reps. Eli Evankovich and Rick Saccone along with state Sen. Randy Vulakovich, all Republicans, visited the Alle-Kiski Valley on Friday to discuss tax reform, touting a need for a change to allow small businesses to prosper.

Rothfus, who serves on the House financial services committee, said federal lawmakers are working on legislation that would simplify the tax code from seven rates down to three, create a standard deduction and make the top rate 25 percent.

Rothfus tied tax reform to a need for regulatory reform. He cited the struggles of small banks and businesses that he said are stifled by strict financial and environmental regulations.

“The little guys are struggling,” Rothfus said.

Evankovich said lawmakers need to hear the stories of small business owners affected by high taxes.

“We need to hear your horror stories,” he said. “We need to understand the things you haven’t been able to do.”

Vulakovich said changing the tax code could spur economic growth by getting people back to work.

“When we thrive is when people are working,” he said. “We have a great opportunity.”

Saccone said along with tax reform should come cuts to government spending. He said residents and business owners have to be prepared for cuts in the state budget to offset lowering taxes.

“We keep asking for more taxes because we’re not willing to cut our spending,” he said. “Every time we try (to cut spending), we’re beaten down because all of these interest groups come in and they want more money.”

Robert Sodini, co-chairman of the chamber’s government affairs committee, said tax reform remains an important topic to many chamber members that haven’t been able to grow in recent years.

“The truth is, small business owners today remain the backbone of our federal, state and local economies,” Sodini said. “When they’re forced to pay taxes as high as 44 percent, they’re held back from expanding and creating jobs.”

Georgie Blackburn, with Tarentum-based Blackburn’s Physicians Pharmacy Inc., said paying high taxes affects all areas of business including what funds the company can use to reinvest in the business, pay wages and salaries and use to grow. The company is also a chamber member.

“Those of us in small business — we need the help,” Blackburn said. “It’s not just the big corporations that need help.”

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4680, emilybalser@tribweb.com or via Twitter @emilybalser.

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Emily at 412-871-2369, emilybalser@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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